Blended learning is a method of training that combines technology with traditional instruction. It is when a trainee student learns online in some capacity, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and pace. Some element of control by the trainee is important in blended learning. It must also include a supervised learning lesson by a manager or instructor.

The problem with blended learning at work

Blended learning is an effective method for training working adults because it has an element of choice naturally worked into the method. If a shift changes at the last minute, a rush of customers through the door, or a delivery arrives early, learning can't happen. So offering digital learning at work is important. At the same time offering digital learning that allows frontline employees to choose when to learn is also critical. However, choice is not optimal for managers who are overseeing complex operating schedules. 

At the same time, the classroom side of blended learning is a challenge for operators. Restaurants, fitness studios and car washes don't have space for classroom learning. And, if there is space, it is impractical and expensive to convene dozens of frontline employees at once. This begs the question, is blended learning possible when you employ frontline workers?

Restaurant employee doing workforce training on mobile phone

What makes blended learning effective?

Using blended learning at work, begins with accessible technology. Employers are primarily providing desk-bound technology to their workforce, yet mobile technology is emerging as a leader. In a survey conducted by Emergence Capital showed that 70% of deskless workers report that more technology would help them do their jobs better. The parts of their work that they feel would benefit most from additional technology include communications, operations & logistics, onboarding, and training.

Digital training should be mobile, not desktop or tablet-based. By learning on mobile devices, adult learners are given the freedom to learn privately. Additionally, mobile devices provide the most accessible form of entry - a phone number. For every 1 email user in the United States, there are 2.5 cell phone users. The challenge with learning on desktop and tablet devices is that most employees don't have email to log in. So a log in ends up being shared, or worse, managers spend more time resetting passwords than actually supporting their team with the b-side of blended learning. 

The digital solution you choose should support blended learning by being mobile-first. It should also use spaced learning, in order to ensure that knowledge is retained. By leveraging a platform that supports blended learning, employers can train their deskless workers more effectively while ensuring that learning is accessible and inexpensive. In order to do this, find a solution that is mobile-first, delivers micro-training, and gets managers involved as coaches in an unobtrusive way.