A word cloud showing blended learning, hybrid courses, live, remote, online and independent.When building online courses, student interaction and engagement can be a challenge. Blended learning refers to a combination of live training versus online training. As with many learning models, this originally came out of formal, traditional school programs. According to a Blended Learning toolkit created by the University of Central Florida, “Blended courses (also known as hybrid or mixed-mode courses) are classes where a portion of the traditional face-to-face instruction is replaced by web-based online learning.”

As with many learning models that were originally created for formal education, there are ways we can adapt the blended learning model for online courses and business. Where in formal training, they define the hybrid as a cross between face-to-face, in the classroom training, versus online training, in the business world of course creation we can create a hybrid course that is still remote, but includes elements of live classes peppered with automated lessons, quizzes, and assignments.

Why does a hybrid course help increase interaction?

Blended learning gives more access to the instructor than a completely automated course. It does require some live interaction, which can be done through webinars and other online tools. It provides students more access which adds value to the class.

I know, for many online business owners, creating a fully automated course is the holy grail of income because they do it once and then sell it repeatedly. The great thing with a hybrid course is that although it’s not completely automated, it can provide powerful levels of repeat income. The automated portions of the course can always stand the same, as long as it’s evergreen content. Learn more about evergreen courses in future articles.

Using Webinars to Create Blended Learning Courses

One of the best ways to add a live option to your course is to have a webinar. Many people speak of using webinars Screengrab of webinar ninja logo.for sales. I’ll have articles on using webinars as sales tools in the future. What people don’t always realize is that they are great teaching tools. This is one of the closest things you can do to recreate the traditional classroom lecture, if you choose.

Webinars can be used for lectures including sharing slide shows and screen shares, if you are teaching software or other programs where having students view your desktop is helpful. They can sometimes be used for Q and A sessions, although it depends on the webinar platform chosen on how smoothly this works.

Note that there are many webinar solutions available on the market. I cover these in my classes and will provide future blog posts covering the different options.

Live Support times / Office Hours

Screengrab of Zoom.us logoOne way to increase the connection between you and the students is to hold some live support sessions. I like to call these Office Hours. Using a tool like Zoom.us or some webinar tools, you can take and answer questions from your students. I have even seen people use Google Hangouts for this, but if you have a private course you should consider using a platform where you have more control since Hangouts are not private.

This allows you to be available to students and provide higher value in your courses than in a completely automated course. It also provides information for new topics to cover either in your blog or in future courses.

We’ll look at various tools for providing live support and office hours in future posts.

Group Coaching

Depending on the topic you are presenting, group coaching can be a powerful way to create a blended learning environment. With group coaching you provide extra access to yourself as an instructor in a group setting. Again, Zoom.us is a wonderful tool for online group meetings. It allows for video, audio, and screen sharing plus you can record the session from within zoom.

While group coaching does take more time than a fully automated course, it takes less time than one on one consulting and can still be priced at a premium if you are providing the great value that group coaching can provide when done right.

For more information on Blended Learning, join me for a free webinar March 8, 2016 at 1:00 PM ET.