Learning doesn’t have to be only online or in the classroom. A blended (or hybrid) approach, a mixture of classroom training and online learning, is a practical and often desirable solution. If learners can access online training before they meet with the instructor in the classroom, this has multiple benefits.
These benefits include, but are not limited to:
- the learner is better prepared for the more complex information to be taught in the classroom;
- the teacher can engage in more problem-solving activities, rather than spending time on basic concepts; and
- fewer days in the classroom and out of the field.
This foray into online learning may prove to be a permanent, and improved, opportunity for you and your learners. As you learn more about potential hybrid solutions, think about which learning methods will work best for your learners and for you.
Teaching Options for Classroom and Online Learning
- Synchronous learning: The learners access the same content at the same time.
- Instructor-led training (ILT): The instructor facilitates the learning through discussion and feedback.
Teaching Options for Online Learning
- Asynchronous learning: All learners access the same content when (and from where) they want.
- Self-paced course: The learner accesses the content and progresses at their own pace, without instructor facilitation.
There is a continuum of training from fully online courses, with no instructor interaction to a traditional classroom setting with no online component, and a number of variations in between.
Some examples include:
- Virtual instructor-led training (aka VILT). The course has a beginning and end date. Learners can access the content any time while the course is open. The learners and instructors can interact and discuss the content individually or as a class. For example, the instructor provides feedback to individual learners and may hold a synchronous (real time) meeting for all learners to do brainstorming and problem-solving activities.
- Asynchronous, self-paced online course. Learners access prepared content and complete it on their own schedule. The content should still include activities that allow the learner to practice what they are learning, feedback about the activities and assessments, as pertinent.
- Asynchronous course work followed by instructor-led classroom training. The learner completes coursework that will set the stage for classroom learning. More complex concepts that benefit from intensive instructor facilitation, as well as hands-on skills, are learned and practiced in the classroom or lab.
One of the most valuable aspects of instructor-led training (ILT) is the ability for the learner to have questions answered by the expert. Think about ways you can replicate this offering in an online setting. For example, allow learners to access “experts” or “peers,” characters in the course who have answers to frequently asked questions.
Whatever variation of online and classroom training you choose, use relevant activities to engage the learner and allow them to practice the skills they are learning.
What is e-learning? (Association for Talent Development – ATD)
Getting Started with Designing a Blended Learning Course (Cornell University Center for Teaching Innovation)
6 Reasons Why You Should Combine Classroom Training With Online Training Programs (eLearning Industry)