How to design blended learning?

About blended learning

At one time, the major approach to learning was the ‘face-to-face’ learning in a classroom setting. With the arrival of computers and then the Internet, the new approach of e-learning became more popular. Attempts to integrate these approaches led to the concept of blended learning. Of course, this is a ‘small’ and specific definition.

Today, many more learning interventions and approaches exist, and creating ‘the right mix’ of interventions leads to blended learning. Often, some type of e-learning is part of the blend, but not necessarily.

Some professionals suggest that all learning today is, or should be, a blend of different learning interventions, to be effective, relevant and inspiring. From a professional perspective, the chosen blend should be based on a good analysis of the issue to solve and the characteristics and context of the learner.

Customer case:

Fire-learning created a blended learning programme to train firefighters in a more efficient and effective way. Read more »

Most important features of blended learning

  • It includes ‘the best of many worlds’ and offers the benefits of different approaches for learning.
  • It gives the opportunity to think about and choose the most-effective approach for each learning objective.
  • Although traditionally referred to as a blend of face-to-face learning and e-learning, the definition doesn’t have to be that strict because:
    • Blends of a variety of face-to-face learning interventions can also be seen as blended learning (classroom training, coaching, mentoring, group discussion, role play, teamwork assignments and face-to-face games).
    • Blends of a variety of e-learning interventions can also be seen as blended learning (e-learning, social learning via a platform or social media, memo training, digital games and online assessment).
  • Learners like to be engaged in learning activities that are effective and make sense in relation to their learning objectives.
  • A blended approach supports learner engagement; a variety of approaches makes the learning journey more attractive.

Use the following aNewSpring features for blended learning:

  • Events
  • Social and Mobile Learning
  • MemoTrainer™ as retention tool
  • Conditional learning activities
  • Certificates of participation
  • Hand-in assignments
  • Video hosting
  • Catalogue

Reasons to use blended learning

Achieve results

A good analysis of the issue to solve, the ambition to realise, the characteristics of the learners, and the learner’s work context, will often show that a blended approach is the most-effective way to reach the desired results.


New technologies will continuously offer new opportunities for effective learning approaches; the availability of new ‘ingredients’ will create new opportunities to create optimal blends.

Optimal mix

Most people at work use a ‘blended reality’, with both an offline (face-to-face) and an online presence to get their job done. It is a logical consequence that the learning situation reflects the work situation.


A good blend of offline and online interventions might save time and money when it comes to travel time and costs and the costs of venues


A blended approach serves different types of learners with different preferences for how they like to learn.

How do you design blended learning

Covering the basics of blended learning

  • Start with analysis: a good analysis will give you clues on how to choose the right blend.
  • The analysis has to do with the learner and the context.
  • Make sure you understand the needs of the learner: the ‘user’ of your blended learning design. What does the learner want to solve, do better or become more proficient at?
  • Think about performance objectives (related to tasks or jobs).
  • Consider the learning objectives.
  • Choose learning content related to the learning objectives.
  • Understand the characteristics of the learner: age, education level, experience and background. Create a ‘persona’ for the learner that you focus on.
  • Understand the context of the learner: What are the specific circumstances in which the learner has to apply what he/she learned?
  • What are the factors that might contribute to and that might hinder application of what was learned?
  • Be sure that you have and keep a good overview of different learning interventions, both for face-to-face and online learning.
  • Be sure that you fully understand the learning mechanisms of each learning intervention.
  • Be sure that you understand the most-effective match of different learning interventions related to different learning objectives (what works best for what?).
  • Be sure to create an interconnection between the different components of your blended learning elements: avoid ‘loose sand’; create an integrated learning journey.

Making blended learning awesome

  • Prototype, test and refine: involve (future) learners at an early stage to test and give feedback on your analysis and design. Do it at the different stages of analysis and design.
  • Make learning active and challenging: learning is a ‘verb’—it needs activity by the learner to be effective.
  • Think ‘content curation’ combined with content creation. Look at what is already available in the context of the learner and use it in your design.
  • Try to include learner-created content (that is relevant, of course)—learners will be proud and engaged. Learner-created content will, most of the time, be easy to recognise by other learners
  • Make your blended learning approach adaptive: include adaptivity to create a learner-specific experience. A personalised route, order, content and approach (say, a personalised blend) creates a ‘one-size-fits-one’ experience for each learner. Just enough, just in time, just for me optimises the result, minimises the costs and maximises learner engagement.
  • Scan for new applications, approaches and technologies and add new, relevant elements over time (and be aware that you don’t get blinded by all the new, shiny bling-bling stuff).

Create your own blended learning recipes with
 The Inspiring Learning Cookbook!

Inspiring Blended Learning Cookbook book image

Want to learn more?
Patricia will help you get started:
+31 (0)10 2447460
Send Patricia an email

Also review these cases: