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Blended Learning in Xen.Ed
Creating an Effective Learning Experience

Blended learning is a combination of offline (face-to-face, traditional learning) and online learning in a way that the one compliments the other.

It is often also referred to as “hybrid” learning and can take on a variety of forms in online education environments. While some organisations may only use blended learning techniques on rare occasions, others might utilise it as a primary teaching method within their curriculum.

Blended learning is fully supported in Xen.Ed and it is even the default Course mode when you start, thought we refer to it as “instructor-paced” on the platform.
It is defined in the “Pace” settings for each course and allows you to simulate a classroom or training room setting, by releasing content weekly and engaging learners through discussions and feedback.

Instructor-paced courses have a set start date and end date. They're designed to be highly interactive, with learners advancing through the course at roughly the same pace
instructor-paced course mode is for topics that require more interaction between instructors and learners, and any kind of training that occurs in a training room, typically in an office, classroom, or conference room.

This form of training can have one or more instructors; and they teach skills or material to another person or group through lectures, presentations, demonstrations, and discussions.

Most often, it's used to instruct a group: this allows you to deliver many trainee-hours of training for each hour of the instructor's time. Training can also be one-on-one, however, this can be expensive.

Instructor-led training is particularly beneficial when the material is new or complex: here, having an instructor on-hand to answer questions and demonstrate concepts can greatly enhance a trainee's learning experience.

Online learning is a proven corporate and commercial training delivery method that allows learners to study at their own pace and in their choice of place, in a cost and time efficient manner.

For some training subjects though, real time in-person training works best, allowing instructors to convey all the subtleties of a physical task, demonstrate particular techniques, engage in live discussion with their learners, and evaluate their dexterity in real world conditions.

Effectiveness of blended learning

While both regular online learning and instructor-led training (instructor-paced) can be equally effective, they each have different strengths and weaknesses.

Asynchronous ("at your own pace") online training is best suited to more conventional learning (e.g. for studying theoretical subjects or for material that the learner has to memorise), whereas in-person training is best suited for subjects that require physical demonstration (e.g. the use of a factory machine's controls or a musical performance), interpersonal skills (e.g. sales training), or verbal evaluation (e.g. language lessons).

The effectiveness of blended learning comes from allowing you to incorporate both of these (naturally complementary) approaches in your online training program.

Benefits of blended learning

Through blended learning:

  • You can cater to both asynchronous and real-time training scenarios
  • Webinars and instructor-paced conference sessions help increase training engagement
  • You can extend your training program to cover subjects that require instructor-led training, physical demonstration, verbal exams, etc.
  • Instructors can evaluate learner performance in real-time, including verbal exams
  • Learners can ask questions, participate and give immediate feedback during an instructor-paced session
  • You get to schedule, promote and manage your regular online training and your classroom- or webinar-based instructor-paced sessions through a single blende-learning capable LMS such as Xen.Ed

Blended learning strategies and approaches

Blended learning can be approached in multiple ways, whether in the enterprise in higher education, or in commercial training offerings.

For some businesses or organisations, it might not even be needed at all -- as in lots of cases an online only eLearning program can give most of the benefits of blended learning in a much simpler package.

This of course depends on the kind of training that is required, and the subjects and skills that need to be covered. The "History of England" for example can be taught entirely through conventional text-based online courses. "Driving", on the other hand, not so much, even if a large part of the required training (e.g. learning about the various traffic signs) can be done without an instructor involved.

If a business, organisation or educational institution already has a classroom-based training program in place, an LMS that supports blended learning can be leveraged to gradually move most of that training online.

Instructor-led training is also used in lieu of more traditional text/media based online learning, with webinars becoming an increasingly popular method of training delivery. This is often the case even for content that can be covered perfectly well in a text-based course, as it offers a more visually stimulating and engaging way of learning that can be particularly effective for certain types of learners.

Coming up with the correct blended learning models is part art, part science, and businesses will need to analyse their particular business needs and training use cases, as well as their existing courses, to determine where a conventional eLearning approach might make more sense over instructor-paced training and vice versa.

In general, anything that requires peoples skills, lab time, or physical demonstration, is a good candidate for instructor-led training, whereas subjects that can be understood by studying some text alone (like learning about various compliance regulations) can be served by a simple text-heavy online course.

For an opposite, but complementary approach, you might consider your learners, as opposed to your training material. Some of them might do better when taught visually or when they are shown something by an instructors, while others might learn faster by studying on their own.

(Note, however, that many things that require demonstration can also be taught by a combination of text and multimedia assets (images, videos, etc), without the need for instructor-paced).

Examples of blended learning: higher education

Higher education institutions are a natural fit for blended learning, as, on one hand, classroom based training is part of their attraction and core competency, while, on the other hand, they try to make the transition to the (increasingly lucrative) world of online learning.

Having easy access to experienced instructors (including some of the world's top teachers, in universities such as Stanford, MIT and the like), classrooms and lab facilities, allows higher education institutions to easily produce high quality webinars and instructor-paced training content in general.

Blended learning also offers a way to give a more personalised experience to the millions of remote students participating on eLearning programs offered by conventional higher education institutions. Instead of merely studying some online material, they also get to participate in online sessions and interact with their instructors on a more personal and dynamic basis.

Examples of blending learning: workplace training

As we've already discussed, typical online training lessons can cover a lot of ground with regards to corporate training, but they are not a good fit for subjects that involve physical skills or interpersonal communication.

While assembly line workers for example can be taught a lot through text and multimedia-based courses, some rounds of seeing, touching and using the actual machines that they will be called to operate are essential before letting them lose in the factory.

Similarly, there are all kinds of skills that simply cannot be taught properly over conventional courses alone. Examples can be found in most industries, from sales training (where an instructor will want to see the learners responding to real-world scenarios with pretend customers), to training for the food and hospitality industry, aviation, etc.

Blended learning software platforms

A modern LMS can help businesses and educational institutions cover both their conventional web-based training and their instructor-paced needs, from a single, intuitive and centralised management interface. Xen.Ed, for example, the award winning LMS platform from Epignosis, that has been praised for its power and ease of use, lets businesses:

  • Combine regular eLearning units with instructor-paced units (covering one or more physical training sessions) on the same course and manage both from the same intuitive interface.
  • Create their own webinars with Xen.Ed' support for video-conference platforms such as BigBlueButton, GoToMeeting, Google Meet, and
  • Let Xen.Ed notify learners for upcoming Blended Learning sessions, handle course registrations and prevent over-booking a limited capacity session.
  • Enhance their real-time online sessions using tools like virtual whiteboards, file-sharing, real-time chat, and more.
  • Leverage its powerful eLearning engine for all kinds of corporate or education training need, from pre-employment and on-boarding to knowledge retention and compliance training.
When using blended learning, keep in mind that its aim is to combine the strengths of both traditional and online learning methods to give your learners a more engaging learning experience.
Through blended learning, you’ll take advantage of the best of both worlds, benefitting both learners and instructors.

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