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Mix It Up: How to Use a Blended Learning Approach for Childbirth Education

Covid has taught us a lot of things, and as a childbirth educator, you’ve probably learned new ways to teach. Maybe you’ve even added some new terminology to your lexicon of teaching with fancy words like synchronous, asynchronous, virtual, or hybrid. But what about blended learning? Is that in your lexicon yet? If it’s not (and hint, hint: it will be soon!), this blog post will shed some light on what blended learning is, why you should consider adding it to your educational offerings, and tips on how to do it successfully.

What Is Blended Learning?

Blended learning starts with self-directed, asynchronous learning (usually an online class), then follows up with a synchronous educator-led class (either in-person or virtual). Blended learning is also sometimes called a “Flipped Classroom,” although that terminology isn’t used as much now that blended learning has gained some serious traction.

Why Blend?

The goal is not to replace conventional teaching styles, but rather to create an educational path for learners that’s more flexible, personalized, and effective.

  1. Increase Retention

Through blended learning, your families have more opportunities to engage with the material. If they need to revisit information, they have access to the online portion 24-7 for an extended period. This allows them to strengthen their understanding on their own, with the added benefit of discussing questions or watching demonstrations with a real-life educator to provide a personal, memorable connection. According to one study (Preparing for the Digital University, 2015), blended learning has proven to produce better learning outcomes compared with other learning environments, such as just online or just face-to-face.

  1. Empower Parents & Streamline Classes

Blended learning enables people to learn through different modalities (educator-led, eLearning, videos, reading, demonstrations, etc.), and this appeals to a wide range of learning preferences. Being able to learn independently, as well as face-to-face, is empowering and motivating for adults. Without that intrinsic motivation, it’s hard to make new information stick. It’s also more efficient for educators. Your learners come to class with confidence and a solid foundation of knowledge. They are ready to engage.

  1. Provide Flexibility

Your families have busy lives, so the ability to learn foundational information at their preferred pace, time, and location has a lot of appeal—along with a shorter live class that is easier to work into their schedules. Besides, today’s educators have more constraint on classroom time, and this can make it challenging to cover all the relevant topics and videos during standard in-person or virtual classes. Using a blended approach, the educator-led class focuses more on hands-on demonstrations and answering specific questions all while offering an opportunity for social learning and to synthesize what was learned in the online portion of class.

Keys to Success

  • Provide a solid online foundation: First, your families receive access to the online learning portion of the class. A quality eLearning experience includes a variety of modalities that engage learners, such as videos, games, activities, and quizzes. (Check out InJoy’s suite of eClasses.)
  • Communicate and set expectations: Be sure your class listing explains the blended format and that you send emails before and after the live class.
  • Provide a comfortable, lively synchronous class: Facilitate demonstrations, learner-led discussion, and activities, and share any hospital-specific information.

Ready to Blend It Up?

InJoy has made it easy for you to create your own blended learning childbirth preparation class using the Understanding Birth eClass and Blended Learning Lesson Planner. The guide walks you through the process and provides best practices, sample lesson plans, communication templates, pre- and post-class assessments (and why these are so important), and class activity ideas for both in-person and virtual classroom environments. Contact your Regional Sales Manager or InJoy’s Customer Care Team at 800-326-2082 or click here to request information.

Kristen Gosse, BA, BS, M.Ed., is the Learning Strategy & Content Development Manager at InJoy and has her Master’s in Adult Education and Training. We rely on her talents to help create the materials you may be using in your classroom, one-on-one, or by the bedside.

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