Last updated: 05.06.24

Taking a Blended Learning Approach With Apprenticeship Training


Training and teaching have changed drastically since the COVID-19 pandemic. With reduced access to in-person settings and a greater emphasis placed on e-learning, training providers are now challenged to offer more flexible options for learning. If you find yourself in this position, a blended learning approach could be the ideal solution. 

Blended learning has become a popular training strategy in many settings due to its flexibility, inherent convenience and ability to serve a range of learning styles. It allows both learners and educators to utilise a range of online tools that will improve their experience of the course content and can greatly enhance engagement for vocational courses and apprenticeships. 

If you’ve been wondering how you can improve your apprenticeship offering and reap the rewards of blended learning, this is the optimal place to start. In this article, you will find everything you need to know about blended learning methods and their associated benefits for apprenticeship training. 

What is Blended Learning?

Blended learning is a mixture of learning methods incorporating multiple teaching models – most frequently e-learning and traditional face-to-face learning. It's a natural development to the growing accessibility of e-learning, online resources and the continued need for a human face-to-face component in the learning experience.

A blended learning approach ensures that the learner is engaged and driving their individual learning experience. The main advantage of this approach is that it helps cater to the individual needs of the learner. Most students have unique learning styles and a blended approach is more likely to cater to those needs than a traditional classroom teaching experience used in isolation.

The Benefits of Blended Learning

The blended approach and advantages of the blended process are ideal for apprentices. It is much better at providing flexibility in a learning setting and improves training outcomes. There are eight key reasons why this works.

Increased Learner and Employer Flexibility

One of the benefits of blended learning approaches is the mixture of different learning models and built-in versatility. This flexibility can work not just for learners but for employers too. It allows you to deliver a learning program or compliance course on time in a method that is much more convenient for all those involved. 

Students can access online materials and resources at their own convenience and work through the associated modules at their own pace. This allows them to balance their studies with other commitments and constitutes a much more positive and productive learning experience. 

Improved Learner Engagement and Motivation

Another benefit of blended learning is that it results in greater engagement from learners. Due to the diverse nature of blended learning models, course content is much more varied and can hold the attention of learners, even while completing tasks and training digitally. The greater the variety of techniques used, the easier it will be to engage learners and deliver a range of core competencies in line with the L&D strategy.

Monitor the Length of Time Learners are on Courses

One of the greatest advantages of blended learning is that it allows you to assess and analyse the time taken for students to complete a course. These insights can give you a better understanding of the strengths of your blended learning approach and identify areas that could be improved. 

A Learning Management System (LMS) is integral to face-to-face and online courses – this allows logins to be tracked and for status updates and progress to be viewed. Using an LMS in combination with blended learning helps providers to coach apprentices through the learner journey to help deliver outcomes on time.

The Ability to Reduce Costs of Traditional Delivery

Face-to-face is often expensive and requires travel, a venue and many people to commit to time away from their desks. Digital learning and a variety of new methodologies mean this can be tailored and delivered with greater flexibility, anywhere and at any time, from a connected device or smartphone.

This is ideal for organisations that don’t have the budget to hire out a meeting space for an extended period of time. Blended learning also reduces the cost of the apprenticeship programme for the student, which will make your course more attractive to those looking for affordable training. 

Supports All Learning Styles

One of the greatest benefits of blended learning is its ability to support different styles of learning. Data suggests that 65% of the population are visual learners and 50-70% of students prefer a multimodal learning strategy. By incorporating blended learning methods into your apprenticeship programme, you are much more able to cater to different learning needs. 

The reasoning for this is fairly simple. Variety keeps engagement high, which in turn will improve the performance of your apprentices. You can use games, quizzes and refresher tests, as well as online courses and face-to-face teaching to deliver a much more dynamic apprenticeship.

Increased Opportunities for Learner Interaction

Both online and face-to-face learning allow for interaction, which is key to ensuring content is digested and retained. With a blended approach, questions can be asked and knowledge tested throughout the course. Plus, learners will have enhanced access to training materials like videos, articles and online databases, which are much more varied than traditional textbook learning. 

Social Learning is Proven to Increase Information Retention

There are many techniques to achieve this but learning in a group can really help learners support each other, encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing. A study from the Harvard Business School found that social learning can increase course completion rates to 85%, proving that a blended learning approach fosters a more positive learning experience. 

Blended Learning Methods

Due to its modular design, blended learning can come in numerous shapes and sizes and be personalised to fit the individual. These types of blended models can include:

Online: As the name suggests, this model is primarily centred around virtual learning with most of the course being delivered via an online platform, with periodic face-to-face meetings.

Rotation: In this blended learning model, students rotate between self-paced online learning and face-to-face instruction. Schedules are fixed but flexible.

Flex: With the flex model, most instruction is delivered online, with teachers providing as-needed support in small group settings.

Personalised Blend: In a personalised blended model, teachers design face-to-face and anywhere, anytime learning options that straddle the physical classroom and virtual spaces. Learning is the constant and time is the variable.

Online Lab: One of the most popular examples of blended learning is the online lab. In this setting, instructions take place in a brick-and-mortar lab, delivered by an online teacher and supervised on-site by paraprofessionals.

Self-blend: With this blended learning strategy, students take online courses to supplement their traditional school's face-to-face course catalogue.

Face-to-face: This method follows the standard in-person teaching model. Educators offer primarily face-to-face instruction, supplemented with technology in the classroom or computer lab.

How to Create a Blended Learning Programme for Apprenticeships

Now that you have a better understanding of the advantages of blended learning, you can start thinking about creating a strategy to incorporate it into your apprenticeship model. 

Define Course Objectives

The best place to start when developing a blended learning strategy is to determine your goals and ideal outcomes. To do this, consider questions such as ‘What is the purpose of this course’ and ‘What is the end goal for learners’. These questions can help you produce a framework and identify where blended learning methods will be the most effective. 

Make it Interactive

Blended learning is innately interactive but you can customise just how dynamic your apprenticeship training is. It will be your responsibility to determine how much learning will take place online and the amount of content that will be self-pacing. 

A great way to make your blended learning apprenticeship interactive is to set tasks that will need to be completed in the learner's own time. Then you can have the cohort come together via an online meeting or face-to-face setting and discuss the task, allowing for collaborative learning and fostering discussion among your apprentices. 

Monitor Progress with Assessments 

You should assess the progress of apprentices with assessments and tasks throughout the programme. This will provide insight into how successful the blended learning approach is and if there are any gaps in the course content. You can take advantage of an LMS to easily set exams and monitor the progress of learners which is much more effective than a classroom-based setting. 

What's the Best Solution for You and Your Apprentices? 

There's no definitive response to this question, but the best option will always depend on the training needs and available investment – this might equate to an off-the-shelf solution, a bespoke solution or a blend of the two. If you’re still unsure of which to choose, then try booking a consultation with an experienced vendor.

At Virtual College, we provide consultation services to assess your requirements – including your training goals, intended timescale, budget and resourcing availability – and identify the best possible package to meet those criteria. We offer off-the-shelf, bespoke and blended training, so we can advise you on the solution which best meets your needs.

Whichever option you select, we’re on hand to support you during the purchasing and implementation stages, increasing your chances of achieving the very best outcomes for your learners and the highest possible return on investment.

How has Virtual College helped other providers?

We take pride in ensuring learner progression is at the heart of every solution, Virtual College is well known in the training and education sector. As such, we’ve supported employee development, qualification delivery and blended training models for a range of educational organisations and leading apprenticeship training providers.

As the learning technologies partner of Interserve Learning & Employment, Virtual College has provided a full consultancy offer – including Enable, our cloud-based LMS, and a blend of our extensive off-the-shelf and bespoke online learning content.

Gregg Scott, Commercial Manager with Interserve Learning & Employment, commented: “We chose to work with Virtual College as they were able to offer a wide range of existing content and were also open to working in partnership to craft a blended solution for our apprentices. The partnership is a long-term venture which will continue to evolve as our needs and those of our clients develop in response to the apprenticeship reforms and levy”’


What is the difference between hybrid learning and blended learning? 

When looking into blended learning methods you may come across the term hybrid learning. While many organisations and training providers may use these terms interchangeably, there are some distinct differences between blended learning and hybrid learning. 

Blended learning and hybrid learning mainly differ when it comes to the level of choice that learners have with the course content. Hybrid learning typically gives learners more freedom with how they engage with the course material and can switch between online and face-to-face learning as they wish. Blended learning on the other hand is more structured, with a specific emphasis on enhancing face-to-face teaching with online training courses and assessments. 

What are the best practices for blended learning?

There are a variety of best practices for blended learning models, many of which have already been highlighted in this article. Some key points to remember are:

  • Define clear learning objectives for your apprenticeship
  • Integrate appropriate technology into the course content
  • Utilise active learning strategies to create a varied course
  • Provide feedback for learners regularly on their progress and performance

What are the disadvantages of blended learning? 

While there are many advantages of blended learning, there are also some weaknesses of the learning strategy. The main disadvantage is that it relies heavily on technology and internet access, which could cause challenges for some learners. Likewise, it can hinder the development of apprentices with learning disabilities if the course is not designed to be accessible to them. 

The final disadvantage of blended learning can affect both apprentices and educators, that is the model’s associated learning curve. It can be difficult for learners and providers to transition into a blended, virtual learning environment as they will need to become familiar with new online platforms and instructional methods, which can cause frustration. 


A blended approach to apprenticeship training offers many benefits that are recognised in the industry. By combining different training strategies like face-to-face teaching and e-learning, you can personalise your methods and improve the quality of your training delivery.

The advantages of blended learning include greater flexibility for learners and educators, improved support for different learning styles and increased engagement with course content. There are a range of different blended learning methods which make it a very customisable strategy that can easily be encompassed into your existing apprenticeships. Virtual College has helped many providers reap the rewards of blended learning approaches and find training solutions that meet their specific needs. 

If you want to take your apprenticeship training to new heights with a blended learning approach, get in touch with Virtual College and learn more about our bespoke training solutions.