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November 01, 2004
Add "Blended Learning" to Your Safety Training

"Blended learning" doesn't just mean Internet instruction. At its core, "blended learning" simply means combining two or more forms of delivering information--for example, a combination of classroom instruction and an independent, self-paced online course. The purposes and objectives of blended learning include:

  • More effective training by using different delivery media to accommodate different learning styles
  • Continuous training, rather than being confined to a particular time and place
  • Speeding up the training process by moving through the material more quickly
  • Simultaneous training of employees in different locations

Analyze your training needs and objectives before designing a blended learning program. Factor in the nature of the material to be covered, employees' learning styles and attitudes, and even the physical capabilities or limitations of your training facilities (including your computer-based infrastructure). For example, a traditional classroom setting may be best for presenting simple, concrete information, for structured Q and A, or if it is unlikely that employees will complete independent study assignments on their own. On the other hand, if the required learning is ongoing and evolves continuously from actual job experience, self-paced study assignments combined with opportunities for interactive discussion can be highly effective.

Why It Matters...
  • A University of Tennessee study showed that a blended learning program reduced both the time and the cost of training by more than 50 percent.
  • The same study showed a 10 percent better result in learning outcomes compared with traditional training.
  • Learning experts believe that a big advantage of blended learning is that it more closely replicates how people actually learn on the job, through experience and interaction with co-workers.

Web-based training is a good place to start when adding new dimensions to your safety training program. That's because of the Internet's potential to deliver a wide range of information in many different ways. Explore such possibilities as:

  • Training modules that can be downloaded or studied directly online at the student's own pace
  • Interactive training, with online quizzes to measure comprehension
  • If your company has intranet capability, virtual classrooms or internal Web-based discussion forums

Don't forget, though, that your overall focus is the learning outcome, not the method of delivery. Your goal is to provide the information employees need to protect their health and prevent accidents and injuries. Using blended learning concepts can be an effective tool for achieving this goal.

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