Tips For Blended Learning In A Remote Work Setting
Blended learning and remote training are two things you don’t typically think of together. By definition, blended learning happens partly online and partly in person—not an option for remote workers.
Drawing on the benefits of both live class learning and online training, a blended learning approach is a powerful strategy for effective, efficient employee development. But with an increase in remote workforces, more companies now depend entirely on online employee training.
If you’re concerned that moving to remote training excludes your organization from adopting blended learning, don’t be. With the right approach, you can overcome distance and use blended learning to support all your employees.
What Is Blended Learning?
Blended learning is a combination of traditional instructor-led training (ILT) and self-paced online (asynchronous) training. Using both formats in combination helps you make training more effective and scalable.
Blended learning can lower the costs—in both time and money—of traditional training while boosting the learner experience. Self-paced, online training cuts down on travel and training materials expenses. It also reduces the costs of disruption to work. People can log on when and where it’s convenient for them.
In addition, learners get the advantage of live (synchronous) learning with integrated instructor-led sessions. They collaborate with fellow learners and get the benefits of instructor supervision. It really is the best of both worlds and worth considering as you build your training strategy. But be aware that remote training poses some unique challenges to this model.
Remote Training Vs. Online Training
Although often used interchangeably, these two terms are not identical. To understand the challenges, it’s important to know the difference.
Online training is simply that—training that happens in an online environment. It refers to the use of the web and is used even in situations where instructors and learners are in the same location.
Remote training refers to the distance between instructors and learners. They’re in different locations, whether that’s due to a work-from-home model or because they’re spread across different corporate locations in a global organization.
Can You Really Apply Blended Learning Remotely?
Understanding the benefits of blended learning and the challenges of remote training leads to two good questions. First, can blended learning be applied remotely? And second, should it be?
The answer to both questions is yes.
Between the rise in telecommuting and the increasingly global nature of business, organizations have been grappling with how to best train remote employees for a while. And the recent pandemic has prompted even more companies to consider the issue. More and more, they’re turning to remote training to keep up their employee development efforts.
Couple this fact with the benefits inherent in blended learning, and it makes a compelling case for taking the approach remote.
The key to success with remote blended learning is to use online training in a way that reaches remote learners for both the live and self-paced aspects.
How To Apply A Remote Blended Learning Approach
With careful planning, you can approach both the synchronous and asynchronous parts of blended learning online. To use a blended learning approach with remote employees, you need to use the available options strategically.
Here are some examples of ways to include both sides of blended learning in your remote training strategy:
Start With The Right Tech
A good learning management system (LMS) makes all the difference in remote training. It lets you invite employees to the program, present training content in an engaging way, and track progress and success. Start with an LMS that is easy to use and administer. Make sure it supports the interactive features that make online training engaging and successful.
Use Web Conferencing For Instructor-Led Training
While they may not happen in person, real-time training sessions can still bring remote employees together. Webinars or video conferencing can be used to conduct instructor-led training sessions online. This gives people, no matter their location, the chance to learn from an expert. They’ll be able to ask questions and take part in discussions with fellow learners.
Hold Live Practice Sessions
Another way to help employees benefit from interaction is to bring them together to practice. Live sessions can be used for training or for application. Consider scheduling a face-to-face meeting as follow-up to the self-paced training. Have employees work through a simulation or real-life scenario as a class, guided by a facilitator. Or use your meeting platform to break participants into pairs in separate digital “rooms” where they can practice one-on-one.
When people apply what they’ve learned, they maximize knowledge retention. They also build muscle memory for approaching those same sorts of scenarios going forward. You’ll see the benefits of training as employees apply the skills where they matter most: back on the job.
Encourage Regular Social Interaction
Remote workers report that chatting with colleagues keeps them motivated throughout the day.
Take advantage of blended learning to keep people interacting by expanding opportunities to be social. Set up discussion threads, social media accounts, or Slack channels dedicated to discussing the training content. Schedule weekly ILTs where people get together for learning or practice.
Making face-to-face and social experiences a regular part of training helps employees feel a connection to their teams and to the organization.
Schedule Face Time With Experts
The convenience of virtual instructor-led sessions means you can reach more employees where they are. It also means you can bring them together with experts or seasoned executives who aren’t always so accessible.
Schedule live events where employees can be instructed by these experts. This kind of access lets people learn from those more experienced than them. It also gives them a chance to ask questions and get a broader picture of why the skills matter.
Use A Wide Range Of Training Methods
Not all employees learn the same way. Some are visual learners. Some learn best by reading text. And some learn by watching demonstrations or listening to instructors teach a concept. The virtual nature of remote training lets you take advantage of different training methods to reach all learners.
Use a variety of learning modalities in your online training so learners can choose those that suit them best. In ILT sessions, take advantage of technology to include different modes as well. Make use of media and invite interaction.
Show videos of relevant case studies or stories that illustrate the skills. Use your platform to run polls and surveys in real time to get people engaged and gauge where learners are. When you meet people where they are, they’ll learn better and remember what they’ve learned going forward.
The beauty of blended learning is that you don’t have to choose between the support of face-to-face training and the convenience of self-paced learning. Even with remote employees, you can reap the benefits of both.
With a good strategy and the right LMS, you can combine different training techniques and build a successful blended learning experience—even from afar.