9 Minutes of reading
6 simple steps to create a blended learning course
You’ve no doubt heard about blended learning – a hybrid learning method that combines in-person classes with digital training via e-learning modules and even virtual classes.
But you might find that creating a blended learning course from scratch is pretty challenging, and you might not know how to go about it or where to start. The key to designing a great blended learning course is having a rigorous methodology combined with the right tools. That’s where Rise Up comes in! As blended learning experts, we can guide you through the development of your blended learning course, step by step!
Step 1: get to grips with digital learning
What is blended learning exactly?
First of all, it’s worth doing a quick recap of what blended learning involves. Blended learning is a hybrid learning method which combines the best of in-person training (where learners have natural interactions with the trainer and other learners, and can put their knowledge into practice) with e-learning (which saves time and money, makes it easier to track learner progress, and can be accessed at any time). Ultimately, blended learning makes training more engaging for learners.
Digital learning: an effective way to learn
As one of the components of blended learning, digital learning is becoming increasingly popular – as demonstrated by the increase in popularity of virtual classes. While digital learning has been growing steadily over the past decade, it really took off during the pandemic, with companies shifting to remote working almost overnight. And it’s effectiveness goes without saying!
Blended learning is primarily based on peer-to-peer interaction and communication, two elements which are crucial to learner success. As early as the 1960s, Albert Bandura demonstrated the importance of social interaction in the learning process. He showed that it is in our nature as human beings to observe and reproduce the behaviour of those around us, which is how we evolve. Moreover, social interaction breaks up the isolation of learning and boosts self-esteem.
Hybrid learning also ensures that learners are surrounded by other learners and can gain encouragement through mentoring. The trainer and learner can schedule regular catch-ups, which helps to lower the course abandonment rate.
Don’t forget about assessments
Lastly, you should integrate assessments into the learning process, and here’s why:
- they motivate students;
- they are a great way to gauge the progress that students still need to make to pass the course;
- they allow trainers to develop a clear understanding of the course while giving them an indication as to where the training content could be more engaging.
What’s more, assessments are easy to slot into a blended learning training course. For instance, an assessment could involve a written test during an in-person session and/or a group exercise during a virtual class.
Step 2: analyse the needs of your organisation
This step involves reflecting on some crucial questions: What do your employees need to learn? What skills do they need to acquire to improve their individual results and help enhance the company’s performance more broadly? What do they still need to work on? When defining your organisation’s needs, you need to think strategically.
This can be broken down into several stages:
- Map out a company development plan for the next 1 to 2 years with a view to articulating the company’s objectives and its training needs (i.e., what training the company needs to put in place to achieve these objectives). It’s also a good idea to listen to what your employees themselves are asking for – during annual appraisals, for instance.
- Determine the training objectives and ensure that they meet the training needs you’ve listed. In doing so, think about the problems that you’re trying to solve through the training course.
- Define the aim. Hopefully you’ve already got some great people – and the idea is to offer them great training to enhance their skills even further.
- Develop a digital strategy which addresses the training objectives. You can use the SEMR method to help you:
- Substitute: transpose certain aspects of in-person lessons to digital learning. For example, you can turn a written test into an interactive quiz.
- Enhance: bear in mind that the aim of digital training is to enhance the in-person training offering.
- Modify: be aware that you’re going from a vertical teaching model (trainer-student) to a more horizontal and interactive one in which employees are encouraged to actively communicate and share resources with their peers.
- Redefine: lastly, think about the potential for digital learning to break down training barriers (including physical ones) and to personalise the experience for learners (through the creation of personalised hybrid training.
Step 3: design your blended learning course
The strategy defined at the outset constitutes the central pillar of your blended training course. When you’re designing your course, it’s therefore a case of defining the training methods (e-learning, in-person/virtual classes, mobile learning, social learning, etc.), the formats used (text, video, images, quizzes, etc.) and the order in which you’re going to present the content, underpinned by a ‘common thread’ or narrative. Include different media and consider how you can avoid superfluous or redundant content: each aspect of your training course should be relevant and useful for learners.
For more information, see our article on how to design a great blended learning course.
This involves carefully following several steps, which we’ve summarised here:
- Produce a specification document: this is the best way to definitively establish your organisation’s needs, objectives, aim and strategy. The document can serve as a reference tool that you can review and amend whenever you like.
- Create a design brief which covers each step of your project.
- Identify the common thread and establish a narrative for your blended learning training course.
- Create a storyboard in which you break up the hybrid training into sequences, using a screen-by-screen visualisation.
- Gain approval for your hybrid training from all relevant stakeholders.
Step 4: create your hybrid training modules
Adopting a rigorous and methodical approach is essential to ensure efficiency and save time!
First of all, create a folder to make it easier to produce, store, maintain and roll out the training course. Then, create the following subfolders:
- design: you can keep all the documents you’ve created over the course of the previous steps here;
- project management: ideal for storing your concept note and budget, for example;
- production: keep modules under construction here;
- media: for your “raw” resources (images, text, video, etc.);
- modules: you can put your finalised modules here.
Don’t forget to back up your work regularly!
For the design itself, there are a number of tools that can help you produce quality e-learning content. Here are a few examples:
- Screencast-O-matic: allows you to record yourself via webcam while recording your screen at the same time. Use for your tutorials;
- Canva: an easy way to create beautiful designs, with a wide choice of templates available;
- Genially: a specialised tool for creating interactive visual aids.
Don’t forget the test phase! Before you officially launch your blended learning training course, it’s always a good idea to have it tested by a panel of employees who are your intended audience, so that they can suggest potential areas for improvement and fix any bugs.
Step 5: roll out and promote your blended learning training course
So, your blended learning course is ready to go – congratulations! You’re no doubt eager to enrol your first employees. To do so, you’ll need to go through another essential step: rolling out and promoting your course. The LMS platform should make life easier for you here.
With the Rise Up solution, for example, a training course produced with an integrated authoring tool will be instantly accessible to learners as soon as you publish it. If you’ve created your modules with an external programme or piece of software, you just need to import it in line with SCORM, the international set of technical standards for LMS platforms.
After that, it’s simply a case of letting your target learners know that the course exists!
Step 6: evaluate and improve your training offering
Now it’s time to take stock of all your hard work! Reflecting on your training course and, if need be, coming up with some ways to improve the hybrid learning experience are essential if you want to improve your company’s performance.
You can use the Kirkpatrick model, which can help you to measure the effectiveness of your hybrid training course in 4 steps (reaction, learning, behaviour and results). Steps 1 to 3 involve seeking feedback directly from learners, while the last step is oriented towards the company as a whole:
- Are learners happy with the training? (reaction)
- What have they learned? (learning)
- How have the skills they have acquired changed their way of working? (behaviour)
- What have been the tangible results of the blended training course for the company – e.g., higher turnover? (results)
It’s also worth noting that LMS platforms provide insightful data, on areas such as:
- completion rate: the percentage of learners who, having started a training course, go on to complete it;
- assessment results;
- feedback from learners;
- ROI (return on investment): a measure of the benefits derived from the training course relative to the resources invested in it.
So, that’s it! You now have all the steps to create an engaging and effective blended learning course. Why not go one step further and download our expert guide: 'learning in the flow of work' and discover how your learners can access learning as they work without disruption to improve employee performance.