Blended Learning Toolkit: How to Create an Engaging Learning Experience

Tools, tips and tricks for creating a working environment that fosters learning and increases the potential of your workforce.

Creating a stable working environment that fosters learning is crucial for helping employees adapt to new skill sets and increasing the potential of your workforce. Having the foundations in place to pivot and adapt at a moment’s notice means your business can evolve quickly with the changing times – something that has never been more apparent than in the last year.

Why blended learning is crucial right now

Investing in learning and development is no longer a nice-to-have or simply a way to retain top talent. Without the elements in place to encourage learning, it’s easy for your organisation to fall behind competitors and stagnate. 

There’s been a call for a more agile approach to L&D programs in recent years due to the fast-changing business landscape. But, if we boil it down to basics, this really just means that learning departments need to be more adaptable.  

Prior to the pandemic, a lot of learning strategies relied heavily on traditional face-to-face learning, like in-person workshops and classroom-style training sessions. With a dispersed workforce – the majority of which are working from home – this is no longer possible, so companies had to change gears quickly. 

One option is to turn all face-to-face training into online, instructor-led remote sessions instead. However, Zoom fatigue and the struggle to concentrate among home distractions doesn’t make this the most effective or engaging way to learn, nor does it take advantage of all the self-directed digital learning opportunities that now exist. 

This is where blended learning can really help. Modules in different formats cover all learning styles and balance facilitated and self-directed learning. It engages a broader audience, is more accessible, and a lot can be done on people’s own schedules, making it far more effective. 

 

Traditional vs blended learning methods

In traditional learning models, employees often learn the same topics, on the same schedule, and at a time when it bears little immediate relevance to their role – and their learning suffers as a result. 

Blended learning methods allow employees to learn topics relevant to their role at their own pace in their preferred way. Some might prefer testing themselves with quizzes on their lunch breaks, while others might prefer diving into longer online courses on their commute. 

One survey showed 79% of respondents said offering alternate formats of training materials was very important or essential to the support of training initiatives. Add to this the fact that 58% of employees prefer to learn at their own pace and 49% prefer to learn at the point of need, and you have a strong case for blended learning. 

Being able to mix and match methods and learning formats both offline and online makes it easier for employees to soak up information and contribute to the wider ecosystem of the company. 

 

The benefits of blended learning 

  • Enables more self-directed learning: employees can learn at their own pace at a time that suits them without always having to wait for pre-scheduled classroom lectures, although it can include modules where people learn together – either with or without a facilitator  
  • Increased engagement: allowing employees to learn when they’re at their best and via their preferred methods keeps them engaged with the learning process
  • Match today’s work dynamics: the workplace is constantly changing and the need to adapt is crucial for many industries. Self-paced learning through blended learning methods makes it possible to push out new information quickly 
  • Meet different learning styles: blended learning counteracts all the disadvantages that every learning format has by combining different formats with each other to cater to many different learning styles
  • Lasting results: learning becomes a process of transfer, practice, and reflection which helps information stick and leads to long-lasting results
  • Less time and resources: eliminates the need to constantly facilitate trainings and continuously create new learning content 

 

How blended learning caters to the 4 different learning styles

A “one-size-fits-all” approach to learning simply doesn’t work. Blended learning allows you to adapt your training to the needs of as many team members as possible by catering to their specific learning styles. 

The 4 learning styles

  1. Visual: learners retain information best when it’s delivered in a visual format, like video, graphs, diagrams, and pictures
  2. Auditory: learners prefer when they can hear information presented to them vocally
  3. Reading and writing: learners favour information that is written out
  4. Kinaesthetic: learners are hands-on and prefer to soak up information in a physically active, experiential way

 

The blended learning model allows employees to access a training module that caters to all learning styles, and people are much more likely to retain information through multiple touch points rather than a one-off classroom-style workshop.  

Various learning formats keep learners engaged by offering a choice of styles – for example, Blinkist offers both audio and written accounts of the key points in nonfiction books to cater to auditory and reading and writing learners. 

 

How to implement blended learning

Blended learning combines traditional classroom-style instruction and innovative technology to optimise the learning experience. While this sounds simple in theory, the various potential lesson formats and module styles can make it tricky to put into action. The key is to create a comprehensive learning experience that touches on each learning style and provides the right learning environment for everyone. Read on to see how you can implement a blended learning model.

Offer microlearning

Microlearning allows employees to learn a little at a time by mixing and matching small modules of information presented in various ways. This improves focus and supports long-term retention by up to 80%.

One study indicates that 58% of employees would be more likely to use the learning tools offered by their employers if the content was broken up into multiple, shorter lessons. This leads to increased engagement rates (up to 90% from an average of 15%) and improves knowledge retention rates

Offer microlearning by:

  • Breaking larger topics down into smaller, more manageable lessons
  • Presenting lessons in a variety of different formats, including audio files, videos, and written documents
  • Encouraging teams to incorporate microlearning into their regular team rituals so they’re encourage to do it regularly along with their peers 
  • Encouraging employees to create their own learning experience by offering curated microlearning content that they can integrate into their learning journeys

Encourage self-reflection

Self-reflection is an integral part of the learning process. It allows employees to think about where they are in the learning process at any given moment, where they want to go, and how they might bridge that gap with the content that’s available to them. 

Encourage self-reflection by:

  • Providing expert feedback from instructors after employees complete an exercise
  • Creating spaces in the blended learning journey where employees can talk with their colleagues about their learning experiences so far and reflect on how they might transfer their learnings into practise 
  • Asking questions that encourage employees to really think about the learning process, like “where are you in the learning process at the moment?” and “what applications of the things you just learned can you come up with in your own life?” 

Leverage facilitated learning 

Facilitated learning allows employees to advance their workplace education through expert sessions on a particular topic, such as implementing OKRs as a goal setting framework. Sessions are predominantly in a workshop format where employees learn with a group of colleagues. 

Leverage facilitated learning by:

  • Identify internal and external subject matter experts and have them facilitate a session on relevant topics
  • Create a schedule of workshops that employees can pick and choose to attend

Activate peer-to-peer learning

Let your employees share their knowledge amongst themselves. Often, the best teachers are those who are entrenched in your company.

Activate peer-to-peer learning by:

  • Allowing employees a space to publicly share their learnings and mistakes
  • Creating opportunities for employees to share what they already know or what they are looking to learn about and utilise those synergies 
  • Putting a mentoring scheme in place 
  • Creating activities like book clubs that let employees share ideas and information

Apply learnings to real-world situations 

For L&D programs to work effectively at helping people adapt quickly with the times, it’s crucial that learnings can be put into action straight away. 

Apply learnings to real-world situations by:

  • Helping employees focus on the relevance of what they’re learning
  • Sharing focused lessons that help employees learn specific skills 
  • Using a variety of media to help information stick 

 

The 5 tools you need for an optimal blended learning experience

You don’t need to buy and implement dozens of tools to design a blended learning experience. In fact, you can probably use the tools that your organisation already has access to for most modules. 

To help you on your journey, we’ve researched all the tools out there and compressed them into a top five list based on the different ways you can create a blended learning experience listed above. 

1. Microlearning 

Tools that break down lessons into manageable chunks and provide personalised workplace education in different formats.

  • Blinkist: bite-size insights into relevant podcasts and books, hand-tailored to suit the needs of each individual employee
  • YouTube: the biggest video streaming platform in the world has plenty of industry-specific channels with short, snappy videos
  • Edume: easy-to-use content creation tool that allows you to build your own microlearning courses, quizzes, and surveys quickly

2. Self-reflection

Tools for self-reflection can be used to distribute questions and allow employees to give feedback on what they’ve learned and how they learned it. At its most basic, you need a paper and pen, or maybe PDFs to distribute questions. For a fancier approach, there are a range of Q&A and survey tools available.

  • Google Forms: create questionnaires and collect feedback from employees all in one place 
  • Typeform: similar to Google Forms but also allows employees to write extended feedback on their learnings 

3. Facilitated learning

Tools that enable facilitated learning in a remote capacity are important for getting group feedback and sharing knowledge amongst employees.

  • Zoom: the breakout room feature makes this the best guided learning option, as well as the ability to record and share sessions
  • Whereby: like Zoom, but without the need to install any software 
  • Mentimeter: lets you create interactive presentations where participants can answer questions via their smartphones
  • Loom: create and record training videos by combining screen recordings and overlaid video footage  

4. Peer-to-peer learning

Conference tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams encourage peer-to-peer learning in a remote setting, but you can also use tools that allow collaboration across different teams.

  • Miro: create remote, visual boards that teams can collaborate on while in meetings or remote learning sessions
  • Jamboard: lets you write, draw, and collaborate with employees in real-time on a digital whiteboard that integrates with other G Suite services
  • Slack: create dedicated channels for colleagues to share knowledge and collaborate all in one place
  • Lucidspark: a virtual whiteboard that lets colleagues collaborate using sticky notes, drawings, and polls 

5. Transfer learning into the real world

The tools you use for this part of the blended learning process will depend on the type of work your employees do and how practical their roles are.

  • Google Keep: allows employees to take training notes and turn them into a to-do list that reminds them of specific tasks they need to do
  • Asana: a time management system that lets you create checklists and templates to manage real-world tasks 
  • Notion: create, store, and track notes, kanban boards, calendars, and reminders to implement lessons in real life 

 

How Blinkist uses Blinkist as a blended learning tool

Creating an exciting and engaging learning experience is Blinkist’s biggest goal. By using a blended learning approach, training can be built over a series of days to cover each step of the blended learning process. 

For this leadership OKR and goal setting training, Blinkist has split modules up over five stages to create a learning experience that builds on the previous day’s lessons. Incorporating a range of different learning methods provides a comprehensive training experience that turns theory into practice through videos, audio snippets, real-time training, and homework. 

Leadership OKR & goal setting training

Here’s an example of blended learning in action at Blinkist: 

 

  • Step 1: Microlearning – listening to or reading a snippet of a relevant book 
  • Step 2: Microlearning – watching a TED talk  
  • Step 3: Leverage facilitated learning – an online training session
  • Step 4: Apply learning to real-world situations – team practice with a workshop or homework
  • Step 5: Activate peer learning – share feedback in a team coaching session 
  • Step 6: Provide additional material for optional further reading so a participant can go deeper on the topic. 

This stage could take the form of a Slack book club where employees can discuss these titles and how they’ve been able to apply the information they learned in the modules into their day-to-day lives. 

 

Creating a toolkit for blended learning gives employees the resources they need to put what they learn into action and provides a structured approach to learning that aligns with employee and company needs. 

Looking to enhance your blended learning strategy with an award-winning informal, self-directed learning tool?

Blinkist is a mobile-first and audio-first learning solution that empowers people to take control of how, when, and where they learn.

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