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Is Blending Learning the Answer to Your Safety Training Needs?

Various presentations styles in one room

Whether you realize it or not, you’ve likely been engaged in blending learning for years. Blended learning is exactly as it sounds—it gives a mix of instruction using both online and traditional in-person (classroom) training for more effective comprehension.

There are a number of different blended learning models that can help safety professionals achieve the right kind of training to meet their company’s health and safety goals.

Blended learning has three common components across all models, used in different ways to create the best learning experience:

  1. online learning materials (including pre-recorded lectures, webinars, podcasts, videos, online reading material/assignments and games),
  2. a classroom learning environment led by a trained instructor, and
  3. independent study time.

Blended learning empowers employees to make the most of learning-centered models through independent learning. Anyone who’s sat in a classroom through a barrage of endless PowerPoint slides can attest to how mind-numbing—and unmemorable—it can be. Classroom time is spent more effectively by engaging the learners through discussion, answering questions and useful exercises.

The three main blended learning models for corporate safety training are:

The rotation model

Much like the name suggests, this model emphasizes the rotation through classroom-style training (or physical hands-on training) and online modules. The instructor is available to provide guidance when learners are rotating through the materials. This will increase engagement and it encourages learners to work together.  

It is expected, due to the nature of the learning, that learners will collaborate in conversation or group work throughout each rotation. This model helps learners to go at their own pace and exposes them to more than one type of instruction, which will not only increase engagement but enhance learning.

The flex model

The main focus of this model is an online learning component and independent study time. The lessons are self-guided with instruction and learning material provided online. Learners can go at their own pace and the instructor is available while they complete their online learning component for questions or guidance on the material on an as-needed basis.

This model is best-suited to self-motivated learners that don’t rely on the instructor for guidance. Often, small groups will be given in-person instruction or groups will be formed for peer-to-peer support or to discuss the topic at length.

The flipped classroom model

This model reverses the traditional method of learning in a classroom setting and being assigned homework (independent study time) by delivering content outside of the classroom (usually online). Instead, classroom time is used to work on the tasks that were formerly considered homework with the instructor available for guidance and discussion.

The traditional method of learning forces learners to struggle with the concepts when applying them in homework and have to come in the next day with questions. The flipped classroom model allows learners to collaborate with their peers and ask the instructor questions while they’re completing the work. The flipped classroom model is easily customizable due to the strong online component. A good flipped classroom will supplement learning with online activities in order to keep trainees engaged.

The most important factor when choosing a blended learning model is getting the right fit for your employees and your organization. It’s also necessary to understand how these models will affect the specific safety lessons that you have to deliver to ensure the required learning is achieved. Having the range of instructional options that blended learning provides will allow employees to have optimal comprehension.


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Using a Human Factors Framework for Safety and Operational Excellence

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