Managing Blended Learning with a Training Management System

Following the events of the last few years, blended learning has become an increasingly popular way to deliver a learning program and it’s here to stay. Many organizations have been evaluating the benefits of combining  face-to-face learning with online content delivery.

The biggest benefit to hybrid learning models? It makes the delivery of training readily accessible and is one of the most cost effective methods way in delivering quantity and quality – especially for a tight training budget.

As more companies adopt a hybrid (or fully remote) work model, it stands to reason that learning should follow. The beauty of blended learning is that it can be tailored to fit any audience, with the L&D team using their expertise and knowledge of their learners to build a highly effective program that meets everyone’s training needs, rather than shoehorning everything into a fixed approach. So, what is blended learning, and how can you utilize it in your training program?

Key Takeaways:

  1. What is blended learning?
  2. How is blended learning different from hybrid learning?
  3. What are the benefits of blended learning?
  4. How to plan blended learning into your training schedule?
  5. How can blended learning improve your training process?
  6. ILT methods and Online Learning Methods
  7. How a training management system can help manage blended learning
  8. Features to look for when choosing a training management system

is blended learning right for your training

What is blended learning?

Blended learning is a delivery model that uses a combination of electronic media and in-person instruction. Typically, this will include elements such as face-to-face workshops in combination with live online webinars, e-learning, resources, instructional videos and even newer elements such as mobile learning. It may also encompass tactics such as gamification, and is often supported with mobile learning to make it as convenient as possible for learners to access the training and knowledge they need.

With blended learning, L&D departments can select the most suitable delivery method for each part of the training program. For instance, some training is best delivered face to face, such as first aid training or showing factory workers how to use a new piece of equipment. However, face-to-face training isn’t always the right approach – delivering parts of the training program virtually can save time and money, and lead to higher knowledge retention rates and deeper understanding.

Blended Learning vs Hybrid Learning: Where’s the difference?

How is blended learning different from hybrid learning? While they may be used interchangeably in the world of learning and development, they both have different meanings.

  • Hybrid learning is an approach to training where learners utilize both online and offline learning methods to achieve their education goals. For example. Instructors and subject-matter experts can lead both remote and in-person learners in the same course with the assistance of video conferencing in the classroom.
  • On the other hand, Blended learning utilizes online learning materials to supplement the learner’s predominantly in-person instruction. In this case, instructors and subject-matter experts combine classroom instruction with a variety of online learning activities. Learners in this models are expected to complete some of the course’s assignments online and do others in person.

While blended learning is about bringing multiple components into a single program, hybrid learning is about expanding access to specific training sessions. While a blended learning program may comprise instructor-led training and e-learning, hybrid learning refers to the way learners join and participate in each session. These are normally handed via instructor-led training and online learning methods.

Instructor-led Training Methods

  • Classroom: The original way to teach people. Whether you call it a workshop, a seminar, or just call it a training event, in-person instructor-led training requires the learner and teacher to be in the same space (i.e. classroom) where both are actively listening and engaging in the material being taught.
  • On-the-job training: Learning in this manner is usually a result of having a role that’s more hands on in a particular environment that requires the learner to work with the instructor. The learner being on site with the instructor allows them to practice the material being taught while at the guidance of the instructor. This method is almost a must for healthcare and manufacturing related roles.
  • Apprenticeships and internships: For learners in roles hoping to learn new skills or forge an entirely new career path, apprenticeships and internships serve as a way for new employees or recently graduated students to learn from the experts. Within these in-person training models, learners absorb the knowledge and skills from professionals to grow into the job role and perhaps even become hired by the sponsoring company.
  • Conferences: The most effective way to instruct learners in-person and en masse. Organizing conferences benefits both the training department and those who are being taught as it allows for just-in-time logistics planning for both resources and the instructors.

Online Learning Methods

  • Video Lessons: Learning content that’s easily consumed as soon as the learner clicks play, video lessons serve as one of the most beneficial learning methods. As a part of a microlearning program, video lesson help provide learners with relevant information in short clips (4-7 minutes long) without detracting interest or attention span.
  • Gamification: Online on a desktop app or even used in conjunction with a phone or other mobile device, gamification of e-learning allows learners to add a flare of entertainment to their learning material. Gamification can make a dull process like onboarding training more fun, competitive, and engaging and can incentivize learners to grasp the learning material better.
  • E-learning Modules: Everything from short quizzes after every short clip to full on complete-and-submit assignments due at the end of the week. E-learning modules are akin in-class or homework assignments. By using various e-learning assignments, you can test your learners’ comprehension after instruction.
  • Virtual Instructor-Led Training (vILT): You may think in the age of remote work and learning that vILT would be positioned in the section above but vILT serves as in important component of the online learning experience for blended learning programs. Live webinars or conferences can be hosted from the instructor in real time via a web application.

Using both Instructor-led and Online Learning Methods for Blended Learning

Incorporating a mix of instructor-led training and online training components are key to making a blended learning program a success. For instance, a global company initiating a software training roll out could have users attend a training event in-person in the classroom (ILT) or provide the choice of attending a live webinar with the same instructor (vILT).

Why does this work? It gives learners the option to choose the learning method most convenient for them. If your organization is running one training event in the US and another in Europe, it may not be convenient (or cost effective) for all your employees to attend one of the sessions. Those in the local area can join in person, while others can join virtually.

What are the benefits of blended learning?

The key benefit of blended learning in 2023 and beyond is the adaptability of companies in making their learning programs more scalable and efficient for L&D teams. There are many benefits of blended learning, including:

  • More flexibility: blended learning gives learners more choice over when, where and how they learn, allowing them to access online resources when it suits them around the scheduled, live sessions.
  • More cost effective: by opting for a blended program, organizations can cut the cost of training by reducing spend on travel, accommodation, room hire and more.
  • Better engagement: while the concept of “learning styles” has widely been debunked, a blended learning program utilizes the best of all worlds, combining a variety of methods to keep learners interested and engaged in their training.
  • Better retention: online resources are used in tandem with face-to-face training to help embed knowledge. For instance, learners can access pre-reading materials ahead of a workshop, then supplement it with on-demand, follow-up resources to keep content fresh in their minds.
  • Faster learning: instead of waiting for the next scheduled workshop, learners can get a head start on their training by accessing resources online – or can attend an online session rather than waiting for a suitable workshop in their area.
  • Gather training data: a part from the classroom, L&D teams can assess which areas of the learning program need improvement and which should be removed entirely. By using multiple learning modalities, training teams will understand how to improve the learning experience for blended learning programs moving forward.

All of these ultimately result in a more effective learning program and improved performance for your learners, whether you want them to improve their sales, boost compliance, increase customer scores or something else entirely.

How to plan blended learning into your training schedule

So, how can an L&D team or training company plan blended learning into the wider training plan? It’s a lot more simple than you think.

The good news is that blended learning is suitable for the vast majority of programs and  with the rise of hybrid work that means learners will generally appreciate the increased flexibility. Planning out your decision to use blended learning in advance ensures that you can build the right program for your learners that fits their schedules along with your training team’s resources.

The first step is discussing with your training admin team on what portions of the course will be delivered online and which should be delivered via in-person instruction. Often this will start with the live sessions, whether these are face to face or online, and the rest of the blend can be planned around these live training events.

Before scheduling a blended learning program, back-office admin teams should ask the following key questions including:

  1. How much was previously spent on instructors and learning resources?
  2. What was the attendance rate for in-person instruction?
  3. Are there any critical assignments that can be done at home as opposed to in-person?
  4. Does the client or company have an adequate LMS to supplement students with e-learning resources?

Asking these questions will help you better sift through in dividing what components of your learning program can be made exclusively online or in-person and what can have a flexible option.

By setting the parameters for your training program first, it will give you and your training team a better idea on how to schedule in-person and online components and what resources to invest it when it’s time to make final preparations for your clients and learners.

How can blended learning improve your training process?

Blended learning is super versatile, making it ideal for a wide range of training requirements. Examples of blended learning being useful:

  • Onboarding – many roles are now hybrid, so you can combine face-to-face onboarding (to meet new colleagues and complete site orientation) with virtual onboarding, such as reviewing company policy or HR processes
  • Compliance training – while certain compliance training is best conducted in person, there may be some simple policies that can be reviewed online. Certification and assessment can also be completed and tracked online, ensuring everyone stays up to date with their compliance training
  • Product training – Whether it’s the consumer or partners in your extended enterprise, learners can interact with you new product in person and then finish up remaining coursework online.
  • Progress and performance meetings – managers and employees can meet face-to-face for important conversations (such as performance reviews) to maintain strong relationships, but more routine progress meetings or coaching sessions can take place online to maintain a regular cadence
  • Reduced resource gaps – save time and resources by freeing up instructors and venues for more targeted in-person training, while moving suitable training online to boost efficiency for everyone

How a Training Management System can help manage blended learning

A Training Management System (TMS) is a must-have for any organization taking a blended approach to learning. Training management software streamlines the planning and scheduling process for your blended learning offering across both ILT and vILT, meaning your instructors and admins can easily keep track of when they’re delivering face-to-face and virtual training sessions.

But the right TMS gives you so much more than just course scheduling. Training Orchestra is also known as a Training Resource Management System (TRMS) as it goes beyond the typical capabilities of a typical course scheduling software by also managing a learning program’s resources, including instructors, venues, training budgets and all the equipment and materials that go into your training.

Let’s use a scenario as an example: ABC Company is a national medical group using highly specialized medical equipment and needs to train its healthcare workers on how to use it. The number of healthcare workers? 55,000 spread across 12 different cities.

With a TMS, the training administrators can create a blended learning program to make mandatory training more flexible for their large number of employees dispersed across the country.  In this case, the L&D team would find the most suitable instructors in each region that can cater to either ILT or vILT based courses on top of monitoring the the entire program’s budget and equipment usage. On the learner side, the healthcare workers would have access to on-demand e-learning, instructional videos and manuals online via medical group’s Learning Management System (LMS) for ease of access.

Features to look for when using a TMS for blended learning management

When you’re looking for a TMS to support your blended learning program, these are the features and functionality you need to look for to maximize the impact of your training:

  • Course management tool – choose a TMS that enables you to manage in-person and online training sessions in the same portal for easier, more efficient training scheduling
  • Drag-and-drop scheduling – make life easier for your administrators and instructors by allowing them to drag and drop sessions onto a visual calendar, making scheduling (and rescheduling) a breeze with an at-a-glance, color-coded overview of all training sessions
  • Resource integration – integrate your resource databases (such as instructor schedules, specialties and equipment) into your TMS, helping you manage the end-to-end full training process
  • TMS and LMS integration – if your TMS integrates with your LMS, you can deliver and monitor your live training sessions and on-demand, online training from a single, centralized portal. While the TMS is a “back office” platform, used primarily by your learning administration team, you can ensure that your live sessions are available via the LMS to maximize visibility and participation
  • Reporting tools – reporting is essential to understand whether or not blended learning is right for your strategy. Choosing a TMS with comprehensive reporting means you can see how your instructors’ time is being utilized, how learners are interacting with each component of your blended learning program and how much each component costs, ensuring you can stay on track with your training budget.

On this last point, it makes sense to pull regular reports to understand which parts of your blended program are working and which aren’t, so you can constantly iterate and improve your offering. For instance, you may find that over time, more learners are signing up for coursework based online as opposed to traditional instructor-led training. Your TMS should provide performance-based analytics to inform you for this learning shift you and your learners may favor.

In conclusion, blended learning is an effective approach to training, offering more flexibility, engagement, retention, and faster learning. By utilizing a TMS, L&D teams can effectively manage blended learning, delivering a successful training program that meets the needs of the learners and the organization.


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