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What is ‘blended’ learning in healthcare?

In this article, we define the term 'blended learning', and look at how learning experiences may be accessed by a combination of routes.
What Is Blended Learning
© Health Education England Creative Commons 4.0 International

What is blended learning?

Blended learning is a combination of activities selected to ensure learning is as effective as possible. Teachers and trainers have always blended learning methods to gain the best outcomes, but the term now refers mainly to a mix of online and classroom learning.

Blends of learning activities can support many topics. In healthcare, it is particularly useful, because many tasks require both knowledge and skills to be learned.

Hospital life support training

For example, in Hospital life support training, resuscitation protocols can be learned and assessed online. This allows the practical session to be completed in a shorter time, and staff spend less time away from the workplace.

Blended learning has the added advantage that the content is necessarily split into ’chunks’, which allow the learner to achieve the overall outcome in manageable steps.

Outcome Delivery Route
Name the main veins of the forearm Online
Identify components of a cannula Online
Insert cannula correctly Classroom
Cannulate patients Bedside (mentored)


The work/life balance

Blended learning can be particularly helpful to healthcare staff who must fit learning in with their work and life commitments.

Online elements can be undertaken at a time and pace that suits each individual. Asynchronous online learning can be arranged on most modern eLearning platforms in a way that allows learners to ask the tutor questions and receive answers.

Split image showing online learning then practical training

The elements of effective learning

There are many different elements and activities that can be blended to provide effective learning, although it is important that every part includes activities that engage the learner.

Blended learning sections which are undertaken online require a learner’s time just as classroom work does, and many organisations offer time in lieu of learning undertaken at home.

Blended learning usually requires each part to be completed satisfactorily before moving on to the next. For this reason, many organisations use a system in which an online assessment must be passed before an individual is able to book onto the practical session.

In this way, the trainer can be confident everyone who arrives at the practical session has learned the required theory parts.

Flipped classrooms

You may have heard the term ‘flipped classroom’. It is a form of blended learning used in schools. The traditional approach of a taught lesson followed by homework is ‘flipped’ and the students learn about the topic at home first, from videos and online material.

The lesson which follows then concentrates on learning activities that explore the topic further.

Blended learning and social distancing

Blended learning makes optimum use of learning time and methods. With the current restrictions, this consideration is perhaps more important than ever.

Although blends are often a combination of classroom and online learning, they can be a mix of activities that all take place outside of a classroom. For example, eLearning followed by a videoconference lesson or tutorial.

If you’d like to learn more about blended learning within healthcare, check out the full online course, from Health Education England, below.

© Health Education England Creative Commons 4.0 International
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