Blended learning is sweeping today’s workforce as more companies seek a flexible, cost-effective approach to training and L&D. With blended learning, employees participate in both synchronous and asynchronous learning. This is an ideal option for companies that want the flexibility of virtual instruction without sacrificing the benefits of face-to-face learning.
But without the right platform, blended learning can easily become disorganized and difficult to maintain. That’s why a Learning Management System (LMS) is essential for successful blended learning. It ensures both synchronous and asynchronous methods are integrated in a cohesive way for all participants. Plus, you reduce costs of printing, transportation, and instructor fees by transferring some of your training into the digital space. That’s just the tip of the iceberg–here are seven ways an LMS supports blended learning:
Scheduling classes and events, tracking registrations and planning course logistics can become easily entangled if not organized within an LMS. This is especially relevant for the synchronous portion of blended learning which requires additional levels of planning and communication. With an LMS, participants can stay informed on upcoming commitments, location logistics, course materials, and more–all within one platform. This ensures everyone can plan ahead and arrive prepared.
2. Virtual Classrooms
No one will deny the value of face-to-face instruction. But organizing in-person lessons poses challenges and costs, particularly for companies where employees are geographically dispersed. Virtual classrooms enable employees from all over the map to convene in a central place without sacrificing any of the benefits of in-person learning. Instructors can host live video conferences, webinars, and training within the LMS, so each employee receives the same attention they would in a traditional classroom. Plus, all virtual lessons can be recorded for employees to reference later.
3. Customized Courses
An LMS allows instructors to customize their courses according to what their employees need. They can set up different learning paths by grouping courses together based on different roles, skills, and goals. Then, employees can walk through those learning paths at their own pace, using materials that work for them–whether it’s videos, documents, recordings, or even games. In some cases, an LMS will automatically suggest additional content that employees can explore based on which courses they’ve already completed and what their interests are. This opens up more doors in their learning path and allows them to personalize their experience with self-selected content.
4. Collaboration and Participation
Encouraging employees to participate and collaborate in blended learning is simplified with an LMS. Digital tools like forums and live chats enable employees to exchange ideas, ask questions and interact socially with peers. Instructors can monitor these conversations to ensure they stay on track, and can help facilitate group discussions. An LMS also supports learner-generated content, where students upload pieces of their work for feedback and discussion. Team building is another useful feature of an LMS, where instructors can create contests, activities, and awards to entice competition.
Since blended learning isn’t always face-to-face, it’s important for employees to easily contact their instructor with any questions or feedback. An LMS streamlines this communication with various channels including audio messages, texts, video recordings, and file uploads. Perhaps most importantly, keeping communication within the LMS will ensure that emails aren’t forgotten in anyone’s inbox.
6. Data Analytics
You can keep a close watch on your blended learning analytics by collecting data in real-time through your LMS. This makes it easy to detect any potential problems early on in the program. You can also access reports on activity and performance to make sure all employees are on track at a holistic level. There’s no need to be a data expert either–the LMS will display exactly what you need to know with relevant visuals and suggested improvements.
Conducting evaluations is how you know if your blended learning program is working for your employees. What skills have they learned? Are they on track with your course objectives? What feedback do they have that can improve the program? An LMS comes equipped with evaluation tools like surveys and polls, so instructors can stay informed about how their students are progressing. You can also choose to make your surveys mandatory for course completion–this ensures that all participants are offering feedback, not just the outliers.
How will an LMS work for you?
These points should kickstart your vision for how an LMS can support your blended learning programs. But this list is just the beginning. As you delve further into blended learning, your customizable LMS will lend support in ways that are unique to your specific programs. Keep in mind that each LMS will be designed differently, so you’ll want to select one with features that align with your needs and preferences.
See how an LMS can transform your training today.
A special thanks to Jay Fulgencio, Ph.D. for accepting this guest post.