No Image Available


Read more from TrainingZone

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Blended Solutions – what do they mean in practice?


Robin HoyleThis feature was contributed by Robin Hoyle, chief information architect at ebc. Robin was also a very active participant in the TrainingZONE debate at Training Solutions.

Anyone who has attended recent eLearning events will have come across the term “blended solution” - the industry adopted phrase for training programmes that combine e-learning with face to face interventions.

Despite the recent prevalence of the phrase, this is nothing new. Those of us who came to eLearning from a training and development background always knew that eLearning wasn’t the answer to all training needs. But how is this “blend” actually being achieved in practice?

To answer this question we need to explore what eLearning does well (perhaps better than traditional training and learning methodologies) and what it does less well (or shouldn’t attempt at all).

The simple approach is to recognise that learning new things and changing your behaviour requires three components to be addressed:
– you need to understand certain things (the underpinning knowledge for those of you with an NVQ background),
– you need to recognise why you should learn this – especially important if you are expected to self-manage your own learning using your computer; and
– you need to develop know how – skills development which requires repetition and practice.

Let’s look at an example. If you want to train managers in the implementation of your performance management system there is a strong knowledge component – the documentation required, timescales for responding, who sees each document and what impact the performance management system may have in terms of pay, training and promotion.

There is also a reason to learn – have you answered the complaints of the over worked manager who thinks this is extra work that he or she can’t fit into their schedule? You will need to explain why this is important and what benefits will accrue.

Finally there is a skills element – how to be an effective interviewer and to give constructive feedback to a member of the team. Try as I might I can’t see how I can ensure interviewer competence through eLearning alone. Yes, they may know what they should do, but whether they can do it is another matter. That requires practice in the same way that driving a car requires more than merely learning the Highway Code off by heart!

Thus most eLearning is used to front load knowledge before a training programme which focuses on skills. However, this requires two things. First, confidence in the trainer’s mind that the learners have actually completed the pre-course knowledge elements – so the eLearning needs to be “tracked” so you have data on who has completed each component. Furthermore, you need the organisational muscle to stop people going on the course if they haven’t used the eLearning elements.

Secondly you need to ensure that the (potentially) shorter course is high impact and based on practice, feedback and repetition to improve skill levels. This requires highly skilled trainers who can set up and de-brief exercises and role plays, and create an environment in which everyone feels happy to participate.

As an advance on the blended model, organisations are also introducing learning communities – using communications technology to link learners who may be spread throughout the UK or the world, and creating interest groups of learners who are going through longer-term development programmes.

The solution is blended – and in truth it always was. Those who wanted eLearning to replace your menu of classroom courses got it plain wrong!

Robin Hoyle
ebc Chief Learning Architect
June 2002


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!