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Blended Learning or Classroom Training – Are Both Equally Effective?

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You’ve heard a lot from the ASHI and MEDIC First Aid team of experts about blended learning, that perfect combination of online content and in-person skills sessions. But we aren’t the only ones touting the virtues of this “combo” form of education.

A recent study from Ithaka S+R reveals that blended learning platforms produce the same results as traditional classroom style training, but in some cases they actually perform better. This particular study focuses on blended learning in higher education and public universities.

What is blended learning?

The North American Council for Online Learning defines it this way:

“Blended learning means many things to many people, even within our relatively small online learning community. It is referred to as both blended and hybrid learning, with little or no difference in the meaning of the terms among most educators. In general terms, blended learning combines online delivery of educational content with the best features of classroom interaction and live instruction to personalize learning, allow thoughtful reflection, and differentiate instruction from student to student across a diverse group of learners.”



In our case, ASHI & MEDIC First Aid’s blended learning courses combine the best elements of online training with Instructor-led in-class skills sessions.

Blended learning is the perfect training solution for:

  • Students who want the convenience of learning online
  • Employers who need to minimize employee time away from the work station
  • Training Centers seeking additional revenue by increasing student volume

 What does the study say about blended learning?

  • Blended learning formats are time saving. The results state that students who took a blended learning course spent about 25% less time to achieve essentially the same learning outcomes as traditional format (classroom training) students.

  • Blended learning formats can save money. According to the study, blended learning offers significant savings in compensation costs, with the degree of cost reduction depending on the exact model of blended learning used.  Productivity may also get a boost if students complete their online learning more quickly than they do in a traditional classroom setting.

  • Blended learning can help if you’re tight on space. You know how tough it can be to schedule a large room for an entire day. Having part of the training take place online keeps students or employees at their desks and out of high-demand, high-traffic common areas like overbooked meetings rooms.

  • Remote employees? No problem. If your workforce is spread out over multiple locations or you have staff that telecommutes, blended learning makes it easier to schedule the online content portion of their training.

Another study from Kyong-Jee Lee and Curtis Bonk, The present state and future trends of blended learning in workplace settings across five countries found similar results. This study was conducted with 674 training and HR development professions from five countries. The study results show that blended learning will become a popular delivery method in the future of workplace learning in both Western and Asian countries.

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Technology in the workplace is increasing daily.  As emerging technologies become more accessible and new generations of learners who grew up with technology enter the workforce, blended learning options might not simply be a nice thing to consider. Rather, blended learning may become a mandate if a workplace wants to remain competitive as well as attract talented and creative workers who want viable options in their working and learning lives.

The co-author of this study, Curtis Bonk, will be a keynote speaker at our 2013 HSI International Conference and will be discussing blended learning trends. Have you registered yet?

Kristine Rice, Marketing Programs Manager



in the past 6000 years nothing has replaced the most effective method of training, in person. If the Blending learning system is more effective then Medic methodology has not been honest in the past. I would argue the Medic methodology was far superior to the ARC / AHA / and NSC. But now we refer to "Compression Only" CPR in our classes. If I buy this, and Pulmonary is not needed for a patient to return to life with an intact brain,then why do we not change this to CR? The trust of those students who depend on us is critical.
Posted @ Saturday, January 26, 2013 10:07 AM by Thom Publsiki
I agree with Thom. I think in person learning is more viable for the student to learn and retain information received with in class studies.
Posted @ Saturday, January 26, 2013 2:51 PM by Ricky Garrison
I have to disagree, Thom. I don't think that anyone is saying Blended learning is more effective for everyone across the board. Different people will respond to different learning styles, and we cannot deny that a significant portion of the information we receive on a daily basis is now being delivered in a digital format. That this technology has only recently become readily accessible does not mean that MEDIC has been dishonest in the past. People motivated to learn this content can do so just as effectively in a properly administered blended learning class as they can in a traditional classroom setting. Some people will even respond better to this format, depending on their individual learning style. 
In regards to "compression only" CPR, I don't think anyone with an understanding of the current guidelines would argue that optimal CPR does not include ventilations. The argument for "compression only" CPR is that it is better than doing nothing if, for any reason, the rescuer is not comfortable performing ventilations. 
There is a lot of misinformation regarding compressions only CPR out there, and we can thank the media for that. As instructors, one of our jobs is to clarify the current CPR guidelines for those who come into our classes with those misconceptions. 
As an instructor looking to be teaching this material for another 20 years or so, I feel fortunate that HSI as a company is being proactive with how their programs can be delivered. To me, this is a sign that the company is in it for the long haul, and I won't have to worry about finding another training solution for my customers in the future.
Posted @ Saturday, January 26, 2013 2:59 PM by Brandon Condon
Iook at it in two ways. It takes money out of an Instructors pocket as less time in class, but will benefit company looking for less classroom time saving them money. I do not believe blended is more effective.
Posted @ Saturday, January 26, 2013 3:46 PM by R Brightman
I believe I agree with Brandon. To blend or not to blend? As an instructor, I have found it important to utilize all the tools available in the training toolbox. I have found with blended training both positive and not so positive results. Matching the topic and the audience learning style really are key to whether or not blended training becomes effective. Even though many businesses find blended learning more flexible (particularly for those working shift work or in remote locations), I have also found that poor participant comprehension and retention through this style of training will produce more frustration, increase the time requirement in retraining, and more money spent in the training process as a result. 
I think it is important to be flexible. Blended training is good, and can be effective for many, but we can't throw out the remaining tools available (like classroom) … they are still good too. With this particular material (life saving skills), we need to train using all the tools available to help the student succeed. We need to train as if our lives depended on it. 
Posted @ Sunday, January 27, 2013 4:49 PM by Darrell Veyon
Hands on as well as using all possible tools. DVD's Books and keeping up any all new current materials that are available.  
Taking time to explain in detail so students understand.
Posted @ Sunday, January 27, 2013 5:53 PM by Erik Berg ex Combat Medic U.S.Army
I do not think on line training is as good. Maybe for a lay person but as I teach for a companY I would never want to see the folks I teach here take this course on line. They need that guidance and hands on every two years..must have it...
Posted @ Monday, January 28, 2013 7:23 AM by Pam Dehart
I believe that nothing will replace the interaction of classroom training. Valuable questions can be answered, especially when 80% of my students believe they "do not have to breath anymore". Blended Training will never dispell that myth and explain the real premise behind Compression-Only CPR. The media, Youtube, and Internet has brainwashed the public and it is up to we, the Instructors, to teach them the truth. A computer can not match the student's need to know 'what' and 'why'.
Posted @ Monday, January 28, 2013 10:37 AM by Liz Vidad
I am right there with you Liz. It has been brainwashed into people that hands only and on line is the way to go...and money or no money that is NOT the way to go. The questions they have and the hands on with guidance..and that hands only is only if you see the person arrest and they are within 10 min of advanced life support is not told...even on television..makes me sick..when I KNOW being a Paramedic that is not the way it needs to be taught.
Posted @ Monday, January 28, 2013 11:12 AM by Pam DeHart
My fist Question for all of you is, have you taken a blended class?  
As for what is better, neither. It really depends on a lot of factors, like The student, past experience, their knowledge, the instructor and their skills, to name a few. 
With blended learning I feel the instructor can focus more on the physical skills that will be use to actually save a life. This is the time an instructor can explain the key points that the student needs to be aware of, such as scene safety, Sending for EMS and the AED, effective compression's, when to do rescue breaths..... 
How many times have you looked at your students sitting there while you talk about the good samaritan laws and what sudden cardiac arrest is only to see the glazed over look? 
When using the Blended style of class we as instructors get the opportunity to actively engage of students. They leave with more confidence in the abilities.  
So are you teaching to issue a card or in the hopes they can use what they learned to save a life?  
Posted @ Saturday, February 02, 2013 3:09 PM by Young Hearts Education - Kevin
It is well known that todays 20's and 30's are more tech savy and they are more likely to want the blended. They often view sitting in a classroom as a waste of time when they could learn this info sitting at home. There is a culture shift where many of them do not see value in face to face.  
I am not in this age group but have been part of a study group for my church. I it so unnatural to me that they do not see value in the face to face but my 24 year old confirms this mind set to me with his peers and himself.  
My problem is that you go to do a skills check and there are people that have not watched the video or must have been busy texting during it.  
Posted @ Tuesday, February 26, 2013 7:20 AM by Laura
My organization is moving to blended training for CPR in 2014. I think it will work. They can get the "book" learning at their own speed and has a task performance evaluation with our instructors. Has anyone set this up at their organization yet? I'm very interested in how you schedule the hands-on. Please send me an email at Thank you!
Posted @ Wednesday, March 06, 2013 2:37 PM by Sheila Serna
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