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The top 4 blended learning strategies that support social learning


Last year, many companies were just hoping to survive. But as work life continues to evolve in 2021, Deloitte insists that, “making the shift from “survive to thrive” depends on an organization becoming distinctly human at its core.”

You have undoubtedly heard before that humans are “hard-wired” to be social. At Howspace, we believe co-creation and social learning need to be at the heart of any organization. But how can you ensure this is the case in a blended learning environment as people start coming back to the office?

Before we delve into the different strategies, it’s important to outline what blended learning is and its benefits.

What is the blended learning approach?

Blended learning is a learning approach that combines traditional in-person learning (i.e. lectures, workshops, and training sessions) with digital elements and can allow for greater flexibility when customizing and pacing the participants’ learning experience.

Blended learning is often used interchangeably with hybrid learning but they are not quite the same. It’s a small but significant difference because it relates to where participants are physically when the peer interactions take place. Face-to-face activities in a blended learning environment have participants all in the same location. Hybrid learning uses digital tools to support synchronous interaction between in-person and remote participants.

There are typically three main components that make up blended learning: 1) in-person activities, 2) online learning materials, and 3) structured study time with peer interaction.

Blended learning is generally seen as an approach for the classroom but it’s suitable for all learning environments.

The benefits of this approach include: 1) round-the-clock access to important resources, 2) greater personalization, 3) more support for different learning styles, and 4) increased participant satisfaction and impact.

The top 4 blended learning strategies

A multitude of blended learning techniques are available online today. This blog post will highlight the top four examples of blended learning strategies that encourage greater social learning.

1: Implement flip learning

Flip learning is an instructional style that promotes greater active learning during face-to-face sessions. Learning materials, such as articles and videos, are provided online for participants to explore and understand independently before a synchronous interaction.

This ensures the in-person event is less about “sitting and listening” and instead encourages participants to actively apply together what they have learned online. The idea is to not spend that much time on sharing content when we have important people meeting together. We should make better use of that time by encouraging more reflection, pair discussions, skills training, and simulations, for instance.

There are certainly challenges with this approach because everyone might not be engaging with the content in advance. Facilitators have to trust that the participants will do the required assignments beforehand.

This is why, especially for adult learners and when implementing organizational learning, guiding processes are crucial. The participants need to understand why they should learn something and how it will help them specifically to keep them motivated.

2: Make it fit to everyday working life

People are busy and facilitators have to “fight” for their time, so it’s crucial that the learning can fit into everyday working life and life in general.

The flexibility that blended learning provides allows for greater opportunity to make it fit, however, there still needs to be thought into how to implement it effectively.

This means there shouldn’t be too much emphasis on asynchronous work, and the amount of materials assigned online should be made with realistic expectations. You cannot expect a full-time employee, with kids at home, to be able (or have the motivation) to read 20-30 pages in a night (or even a week). Plan resources that will be engaging and not too time-consuming outside in-person interactions so people are motivated to learn and come prepared for deeper active learning face-to-face.

Again, this also comes back to guiding principles and making sure participants understand the value of what they are doing and why it’s meaningful for them. Internal motivation is key.

3: Focus less on “finishing” a course

In digital training, there’s a lot of focus on how to complete a course—to have it done and dusted as soon as possible—but we should get rid of this kind of talk in blended learning and, honestly, in learning all together.

The big issue with some digital tools is that people are just clicking next and trying to pass a particular course without getting a deeper understanding of what they’re learning and how to apply it to everyday situations. Instead, we should be focusing on continuous learning and not just completing things.

To help combat this, it’s important to have learning objectives that focus on applying learning to everyday life instead of reaching a certain grade or level of a course.

Making the learning objectives less about an individualistic achievement also encourages greater collaboration amongst participants as they work toward other common goals.

4: Use flexible digital tools

In the digital environment, we spend a lot of time planning and building courses, which can be costly and time-consuming. It’s also costly to continually update materials since content is changing all the time.

Planning is important, but we can also try to live in the moment, listen to people, and focus on what’s relevant for them. That’s why it’s essential to have tools that allow for such flexibility and transparency.

Instead of content-driven training, encourage co-creation with the participants and develop content and courses that support the needs of the different groups.

We might think it’s pretty straightforward, but still all groups are very different. We have to be aware of that and not spend too much time planning, but rather understand the context and change plans based on each new group.

Howspace is an excellent example of an intuitive and user-friendly digital tool that can support these flexible learning processes, so you don’t have to plan everything in such a detailed and rigid way, or build the content in a perfect way.

All these strategies above can also be applied to any future hybrid learning program on the horizon. Just remember to be a bit more considerate of people’s locality when planning synchronous activities and try to make sure no one feels, especially remote individuals, like “second-class” participants.

If you want more tips for boosting engagement in a virtual learning environment, check out our ebook that covers 8 learning trends that are already revolutionizing the way people learn at work.

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