6 Online Activities to Include in Your Blended Learning Framework
Blended learning involves online and classroom activities. Are you aware of these online activities that can enhance your blended learning program?
Often, we notice online activities being incorporated in a blended learning framework just to have them in the blend, without proper thought being given to their function. However, blended learning is not just having online and offline learning activities. It’s about blending classroom training and online learning in the right proportion, each to address specific learning needs, and provide a holistic learning experience to learners.
6 Online Activities to Consider in Blended Learning
- Reconfigure ILT to microlearning modules
- Utilize online assessments to assess and identify areas of improvement
- Offer additional resources through various online formats
- Let your learners collaborate through online collaboration tools
- Provide performance support through mobile learning
- Track offline activities using xAPI
Every learning activity included in a blended learning framework – both online and classroom – should serve a purpose – based on learners’ roles and job tasks. And no matter how many learning activities you include in your blended learning program, there are a few online learning elements that offer substantial benefits when integrated. Let’s check them.
The 6 Online Activities You Can Include in Blended Learning
1. Reconfigure ILT Content to Microlearning Modules
Lengthy content is a big no-no for today’s learners. Hence once you decide to go blended, decide on converting most of the lengthy PDFs, videos, and PowerPoint decks you use to deliver classroom training into microlearning modules.
Microlearning is all about delivering short, bite-sized modules which focus on one single learning objective per module, thus allowing learners access to short, focused content that facilitate immediate knowledge transfer. So, developing micro modules is not about just chunking content into short pieces. It is identifying clear learning objectives and developing modules that cover each one holistically. While different microlearning formats can be used, it’s important to let form follow function.
For example, from a PDF on a process, the steps can be presented as a video, whereas the dos and don’ts can be listed in an infographic, thus making the content visually appealing and engaging.
2. Utilize Online Assessments to Assess and Identify Areas of Improvement
You might be wondering, “Why can’t I just assess learners using the traditional pen and paper? I can still identify the areas of improvement.” Well, with online assessments you can do it much more quickly, reduce paperwork, and also offer other benefits. Online assessments are of two types:
Formative Assessment: These used in the midst of a course, after the completion of each learning point/unit to help learners check their understanding and reinforce learning by guiding them through feedback.
Summative assessment: These are used after the completion of a course to evaluate if the learner has mastered the learning objectives.
Let’s see how they can be included in blended learning through an example. Let’s say, you are planning to conduct a 3-day workshop on ‘Fire Rescue’ training. This training covers various topics such as fire survival training, pump training, and fire-fighter rescue training. After each day’s workshop, an online assessment in the form of microlearning nuggets can be provided as formative assessment. Doing so will help them retain and reinforce all they have learned that day.
After the completion of the entire workshop, you can provide them with an online summative assessment. After the summative evaluation, track the performance of learners through the Learning Management System (LMS). Other than the final scores of the learners, the LMS will also provide details such as:
- Time taken to complete the assessment
- Number of attempts taken
- Time taken to complete each question in the assessment
Since you gain access to details other than just the score of learners, you will be able to assess them better and identify areas of improvement. For example, if most of your learners took multiple attempts to complete questions on the pump training topic, it implies the training delivered on this had not been efficient enough.
Besides all this, online assessments also provide the freedom to drift away from the traditional assessment formats such as multiple-choice questions and fill in the blanks and include new age formats such as rank sequencing activities, gamified nuggets and more.
3. Offer Additional Resources through Online Formats
Even though we come across many training programs which comprise quite a lot of content, it’s recommended you only include the “need to know” content, i.e., the content needed to achieve the learning objectives. All the other content, referred to as the “nice to know” content, should be avoided from getting included in the training as it might overwhelm learners and derail them from the actual learning objective. For example, if you want to train your employees on how to use a defibrillator, you needn’t train them on the history of defibrillators, do you?
Once you conduct a classroom session on the ‘need-to-know’ content, the ‘nice-to-know’ information can still be provided as additional resources through online courses or microlearning assets. This will make blended learning the perfect fit to offer comprehensive knowledge. For example, if the additional information consists of a list of terms related to a subject, glossaries can be used. Besides these, they can also be provided through PDFs, eBooks and other formats. Thus, if learners are interested, they can explore the topic.
4. Let Your Learners Collaborate Through Blended Learning
Collaboration is known to enhance learner participation and eventually leads to higher engagement. Letting your learners collaborate through discussions and debates will also let them break their boundaries of thinking and gain fresh perspectives. But collaboration is no longer confined to the four walls of a classroom. Technology has made it possible to collaborate beyond it. A few of the online collaboration tools include:
Discussion forums: In a discussion forum, a facilitator poses a question to which learners post their answers and opinions. They can be used when your learners are spread across the globe and bringing them together is not possible.
Online Polls: Online polls are collaborative tools that provide your learners a platform to voice their opinions by choosing from a set of options to the question posed. They can be used to collect opinions on various aspects such as the effectiveness of the previous or ongoing training, the subject they would like to be trained, and more apart from encouraging discussion and debate on the current learning.
5. Provide Performance Support through Mobile Learning
Most often we notice that once employees are trained and a certain time elapses, they find it hard to recall all they have learned. According to the forgetting curve by Hermann Ebbinghaus, human beings tend to forget 70% of what they have learned in just a day. This is why providing performance support is extremely important.
Providing performance support is all about delivering precise, focused content to learners each time they find it hard to recall something, in the midst of a job. The main characteristic of performance support is being available on demand, anywhere, anytime.
Keeping these characteristics in mind, what else could be a better medium to deliver performance support than through a mobile device? Delivering performance support through mobile learning will allow learners to access the information as and when they require. For example, maybe your employee just forgot one of the steps when processing a claim.
If you deliver an infographic or a checklist listing the steps, which learners can access on their mobile, all they will have to do is access the content, clear their doubt, and go on with the work. A lot of time saved!
6. Track Offline Activities Using xAPI
Tracking learner activities is very vital in training. It helps you identify learning patterns and trends and also ensure if learners are getting the best out of learning. But though blended learning consists of both online and offline activities, only online activities are tracked through the LMS. What about the offline activities? Would just tracking online activities help evaluate the effectiveness of the training and learner progress?
This is when the role of xAPI comes in. Experience API (xAPI) facilitates the storing and tracking of all the activities a learner involves in, both online and offline. I’m sure you might be wondering how offline activities are stored and tracked. A Learning Record Store (LRS) stores all learning activities in the form of ‘activity statements.’
Blended learning is surely an amazing strategy to train your learners – your learners get the best of both classroom training as well as eLearning. Incorporating these online ingredients in your blended learning framework will definitely take your training initiative a notch higher.
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