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4 Core Blended Learning Models Every Training Manager Should Know

We all know training isn’t always easy: whether you’re the manager planning it for your employees or an employee struggling to find the time to complete it.

Luckily, there are ways to create an effective training schedule to help the manager and employees follow through.

Suppose you’re a manager struggling to get your employees effectively trained, maybe because your employees aren’t invested or the training isn’t cost-effective. If that’s the case, it’s likely taking up too much of the employees’ time, and you should consider trying a blended learning model.

Blended learning models bring together some of the best aspects of physical and online learning. And it can be an effective way to learn.

What is a Blended Learning Model?

A blended learning model is a framework for teaching using blended learning techniques which consist of a combination of face-to-face and in-person teaching elements. Because of the in-person aspect, there’s an element of synchronous learning not always present in eLearning. Different types of blended learning models provide different ways to combine the two effectively.

Whereas with other forms of learning, you are required to do a specific kind of learning (traditional, online, or hybrid), blended learning allows students to explore traditional and online learning.

We’ve included a table below to outline the differences.

Type of Learning

Brief Description

Where It Happens

Traditional Learning

Teaching takes place in an in-person setting. In corporate training, this is sometimes done as a seminar, conference, etc

In-person

Online Learning

Teaching takes place online, using platforms like LMSs to create and deliver content

Online

Hybrid Learning

The employees have the choice of taking part in the training in-person or online

In-person or online

Blended Learning

The employees will be taking part in learning that combines aspects of online and in-person learning

In-person and online

4 Core Blended Learning Models Every Manager Should Follow

blended learning together with team

When you’re talking about different types of blended learning models for adults, there are four that every manager should know.

Those models are

  1. The rotation model of blended learning
  2. The flex model of blended learning
  3. The enriched virtual model of blended learning
  4. The a la carte model of blended learning

Let’s dig deeper into them.

Rotation Model of Blended Learning

The rotation model of blended learning is when students (including employee students) rotate between different activities, with one at the very least being virtual – hence why it’s considered a blended learning model.

This type of blended learning model works on a fixed schedule due to the organized nature of the rotating activities.

According to Granite School District, the rotation model of blended learning can be divided into the following categories:

  • The Station Rotation Model: This model has the rotating activities all in one room
  • The Lab Rotation Model: This model involves the eLearning aspect being done in a computer lab
  • The Flipped Classroom Model: The learning in this model is primarily done online with the in-person learning being ‘teacher-guided practice or projects’ (quote from Granite School District). In a corporate setting, this could look like employees doing online training modules on their own time but then having a supervisor, manager, senior employee, etc., watch them implement the skill they’d learned.
  • The Individual Rotation Model: This model involves completing the rotations on an individual basis, where the individuals have a customized schedule created by the instructor.

Flex Model of Blended Learning

The flex model of blended learning involves trainees having access to all the data, information, and work they need online, and they work through it independently. However, according to the Tech Advocate, the instructor should still be actively working with the trainees (this face-to-face communication is what separates it from online learning).

In general, this blended learning model can have a much heavier online aspect than others on this list. It also allows more independence to those going through the training than the rotation model does.

The Tech Advocate also points out that this blended learning model can be pricey, considering all trainees need to have access to the appropriate equipment. With employees, if all that is required is a phone or computer, it’s much more likely they’ll have access to them, either personally or through their work already.

Enriched Virtual Model of Blended Learning

The enriched virtual model of blended learning is similar to the flex model in some ways. The trainees are still doing most of their work independently online. However, the in-person sessions are conducted as a class. According to the OSU Library, they’re just not done ‘daily or even regularly. Instead, classes are scheduled for when the instructor feels they’re necessary, using ‘the progress of the students.’

So really, enriched virtual learning is quite literally enriched virtual learning. It’s online learning with extra help from in-person, more traditional instruction when required.

À La Carte Model of Blended Learning

The a la carte model of blended learning does not seem immediately connected to employee training. It’s defined as taking additional online classes on top of students’ regular, in-person schooling.

Typically, when thinking of a la carte models of learning, you’ll think of students wanting to take extra classes for the university program they want to get into or those for early graduation.

Which, again, isn’t relevant for employees you need to train.

However, it’s also something employees can use. If they invest in extra online training aside from what is provided to them in person, that can be considered a form of a la carte blended learning.

Maybe their interest was piqued in a certain subject, and they wanted to learn more about it. Perhaps they feel their training lacks something, and they’ve taken it upon themselves to learn more about it. Or maybe they have another reason altogether. 

Blended Learning Examples

blended learning implementation

Unsurprisingly, blended learning models are often described in terms of their use with school-age or university students. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be effective models for managers to employ. To prove it, we’ve created a table to showcase theoretical examples of how you could apply these four blended learning models to your employee training.

Blended Learning Model

Applying It to Employee Training

Rotation Model

A workshop to train sales employees on new methods of selling, each rotation being a chance to learn more about and practice each method. These new methods include online lead generation and in-person lead generation opportunities

Flex Model

Employees doing online training on leadership development by completing courses divided into modules. An instructor is available to the employees at work to discuss the coursework and practice their skills when the employee requires it

Enriched Virtual Model

Employees doing online module training to learn about a new product their company is selling (including how it works and how to use it), but meeting once or twice a week with an instructor to make sure they understand the product. The instructor will be able to answer questions and monitor the use of the product

A La Carte Model

Employee embarking on HubSpot Academy courses to supplement the in-person training being done at work

How To Use Blended Learning Models In Corporate Training

Now that you know more about blended learning models and how they could theoretically be used for employee training, how do you use them for corporate training? Practically speaking, how do you use blended learning models effectively? It depends a little bit on your business and your employees’ preferences, but we’ve still got some tips for you.

Some of those tips include:

  • Consider your employees
  • Use a combination of lectures/seminars and practice
  • Whatever model you use, make sure both aspects complement each other
  • Use an LMS

Consider Your Employees

When you’re choosing models of blended learning, and when you’re implementing your chosen blended learning model, consider the abilities, comfort levels, tech literacy, extroversion vs introversion rates, current job/skill knowledge, etc. of your employees. In all likelihood, your employees will be in different places in these categories, so it may be challenging to cater to them all. But that’s part of the benefit of a blended learning model. If you’ve chosen the right kind of model and allowed it the proper customization, you should have training courses that have aspects that cater to all your employees.

Lectures/Seminars and Practical Learning

You’ll want to balance the regurgitation of information in a lecture-like format with the actual practicing of the information or skills your employees should be learning. Maybe this split is how you’ll separate in-person vs online learning to create that blend.

According to a Harvard Business Review article, people learn best when they practice what they learn immediately; otherwise, it is challenging to retain the information.

Therefore, when creating or implementing your blended learning model for training, make sure you keep in mind how to balance the lecture vs the practical application of the learning and the in-person vs virtual learning.

Complementing Online and In-Person Aspects

Regardless of the blended learning model being used to train your employees, the in-person and online aspects should work with each other and not break the natural flow of learning. Concepts should not feel broken, stuttered, or hard to understand when switching between learning methods.

Instead, the online and the traditional learning in your blended learning model should complement each other, both in content and methods. It’s one cohesive course and should be read as such for the employees going through it, rather than as two distinct courses.

This applies to the different types of blended learning models in different ways. Obviously, a la carte learning is an exception, but this still applies to the other three.

  1. The rotation model: the different activities rotating through should all involve different aspects of the same concept. However, due to the nature of the rotation, you’ll need to make sure it makes sense to go through the activities in different orders.
  2. The flex model: the instructor will need to understand what the individual employee needs help with, how the individual employees learn, etc., when helping the individual employees with understanding the training content and any projects assigned.
  3. The enriched virtual model: rather than on an individual level like for the flex model, instructors will need to understand the overall needs of the group.

Use an LMS

Although there are other online learning tools you could use to create the online portion of your blended learning model, we recommend you use an LMS. LMSs have various features you could use that would help facilitate the ease of use between the in-person and online learning elements. 

For instance, Tovuti offers LMS features like built-in course authoring, bring your own content, course tracking, course management, quizzes and assessments, interactive videos and presentations, virtual classrooms … the list goes on. 

These features can help create synchronous and asynchronous learning depending on what you need for your blended learning model and can easily be used in complementarity with in-person learning. 

If this is something you think you will need, check out Tovuti’s blended learning feature! 

How To Choose The Best Blended Learning Model

blended learnign with colleagues

Maybe we got ahead of ourselves with the final list because before you create or find a course for your employees, you’ll need to choose the best blended learning model for your business.

And here are the six steps that can help you do that:

  1. Identify what the needs for training are
  2. Analyze your audience (or employees) to understand what works best for them
  3. Decide on a training schedule
  4. Consider how complex the content your employees need to learn is
  5. Consider what resources you have (and how much it’ll cost to get more)

Identify The Training Needs

You need to consider and identify what the needs for training in your company are. You’ll have to ask yourself questions like:

  • What do your employees currently need to be trained on?
  • What will they need to be trained on in the immediate or distant future?
  • What do you need to be trained on?
  • Are there any new technologies or products related to your industry or company your employees should know?
  • Do different employees and job positions require different training?

You’ll need to understand the answers to these questions to understand exactly what your company needs, so you can pick which of the blended learning models would work best for your business.

Analyze The Audience

Just like you need to ask yourself about your company's training needs, you also need to understand the training needs, strengths, abilities, weaknesses, and ways of learning of your employees. You’ll need to ask yourself questions like:

  • Is there anything your employees are struggling with (as a whole and on individual levels)?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of your employees (as a whole and on individual levels)?
  • How best do your employees learn?
  • Would they be able to travel for training?
  • How tech literate are they, on an individual level?
  • What technology is currently available to them, or do they already know how to use it?
  • How busy are your employees?
  • What sort of availability do they have in their schedules for training?

After answering these questions, you should have a much stronger idea about what blended learning models will work best for your employees and what sort of modules and content should be included.

Decide On the Training Schedule

Taking into consideration how busy your employees are, and the availability in their schedules for training (which you’ve found out in the last step), decide on the training schedule for your employees. How this schedule is set up will help determine which blended learning models would be best for your business. For instance, if there’s very little or no time where everyone could meet together with an instructor, then probably the flex or enriched virtual models would work best. However, if there’s more time where you and your employees could afford to fit it in, and there are many activities for them to learn, the rotation model may be worth a shot.

Consider The Complexity of The Content

How complex is the training your employees need? Does it involve many different aspects? Is it hard to learn without direct help and teaching? Teaching that is more complex or involved would probably do best with a blended learning model like the rotation model so that an instructor would always be around to help. Whereas, if the learning is something that employees should be able to pick up with limited or only necessary support, the flex or enriched learning models may be the easiest to fit into the workdays. Unless the instructor would be able to spend a lot of one-on-one time with employees using the flex model. Then you could potentially use the flex model of blended learning for employee training because it would be much easier to fit into a schedule.

Consider What Resources You Have Available to You

To decide which blended learning models you should use, consider what resources you already have available to you for both in-person and online learning. Do you have a room in your business to facilitate a group of employees gathering for in-person training? Do you have an LMS like Tovuti that can create and host online learning courses and modules using eLearning course authoring tools, video conferencing technology, or other online learning platforms that could be used for effective online training?

Whether or not you already have technology set up for your business, how tech-literate your employees and the employees of your business are, etc., will affect how heavily you can rely on the online learning aspect of blended learning models. The flex and enriched virtual blended learning models heavily rely on online learning. The rotation model of blended learning only relies on online learning as much as you (or the instructor) set it up to. 

When to Use Each Blending Learning Model

types of blended learning from the office

In summary of basically everything listed above, here’s a table that outlines each blending learning model and when best to use it.

Blended Learning Model

Brief Description

When to Use It

Rotation Model

Rotate between activities

  • A variety of different skills or concepts to teach based on one topic
  • Complex content that requires the time and care of an instructor to explain and monitor
  • Hands-on content that requires the time and care of an instructor to oversee (particularly if learning a new skill that could cause harm if done incorrectly)
  • More time and space available to dedicate to in-person learning
  • Time and space that’s specifically dedicated to corporate training

Flex Model

Online work with individual face-to-face help from an instructor

  • Content that can be largely self-learned
  • Content that doesn’t require much (or any) monitoring from an instructor
  • Employees that prefer self-directed training (and will actually follow through with it)
  • Tech-literate employees
  • Introverted employees
  • Content that’s less complex in concept and application (unless instructor will be often readily available to aid employees that need help)
  • Plenty of access to online learning platforms like LMSs

Enriched Virtual Model

Online work with in-person learning when necessary

  • Content that can be largely self-learned
  • Content that doesn’t require much (or any) monitoring from an instructor
  • Employees that prefer self-directed training (and will actually follow through with it)
  • Tech-literate employees
  • Employees that prefer to have at least some peer learning and discussion
  • There’s room in schedules to set time aside for everyone to meet
  • Content that’s less complex in concept and application
  • Plenty of access to online learning platforms like LMSs

A La Carte Model

Extra online courses on top of regular, traditional courses

  • Employees who want extra training on top of the mandatory training they’re already doing

Note that this table should just be used as a guide. You will know the right choice of the blended learning models for adults in your business

To Conclude

learning from a coffee shop

Blended learning is an effective way to train your employees. There are many different ways to apply blended learning models for adults to your employee training, starting with the four basics:

  1. The rotation model of blended learning
  2. The flex model of blended learning
  3. The enriched virtual model of blended learning
  4. The a la carte model of blended learning

And if you need an online platform for the virtual part of your blended learning models, then we’d recommend you get an LMS. View a demo from us here at Tovuti to learn more about how an LMS is a perfect platform for hosting and presenting your online employee training.

Author:
Tyson Chaplin

Tyson Chaplin earned his Master of Educational Technology degree from Boise State University in 2014. He also earned a graduate certificate in Technology Integration and holds teaching certificates in online teaching, special education, and history.

Tyson is an Idaho native who is passionate about technology and how it can help all people learn and better themselves. He has worked in both public and private sectors. Tyson enjoys cooking and traveling with his wife, Malia, and restores vintage video game systems in his free time.

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