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Get clear about Blended Learning


Get clear on blended learning

The definition

Often definitions of blended learning employ culinary metaphors; you may not be a cook but you probably eat, so these terms should be familiar to you!

  • a mixture of ingredients which make the ideal dish,
  • a variety of drinks whisked together to form a cocktail,
  • a list of dishes put together to form the ideal menu.

Does this difficulty of agreeing a definition devalue what blended learning is or does this infinite variety offer the best and most flexible way of responding to a learner’s needs?

To summarise most current thought there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and it really is a case of “horses for courses’!

When we say ‘traditional’ we probably mean F2F, classroom based training, right? Well, I’m not saying do away with F2F altogether OR go over to a complete e-learning system.

Brainstorm the tools with your colleagues and I bet you come up with all of these and perhaps some more!

  • Web cams for meetings and coaching
  • Webinars
  • Online assessment tools
  • Telephone coaching and mentoring
  • E-mail coaching
  • Online training tools
  • Social networking media
  • Group forums
  • Action learning sets
  • Telephone
  • Conference calls
  • Web conferencing
  • Video conferencing
  • Pod casts
  • Teleclasses
  • Teleconferences
  • Text messages
  • Instant messaging; can be used by groups
  • Downloads
  • Blogs
  • Wikis; websites where users contribute to the content
  • CD/ROM courseware
  • Books
  • VOIP
  • TV and video
  • M-learning - delivered to mobile devices, mobile ‘phones, IPODs etc

Which of these do YOU use in your companies?

Which methods are the most effective?

How do you decide which to use?

How to build the blend

Your basic questions need to be around the following issues (as with ‘traditional” training):

  • The learning objectives for the programme
  • How the training will be assessed and evaluated
  • The needs of the target audience
  • How value will be added to the business by the programme

When you are building your blend you will need to consider all four aspects but don’t forget to go back to your learning objectives every time THEN choose the methods!

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One Response

  1. Getting clear on Blended Learning

    Blended Learning; now there’s a much hyped term.

    As a Luddite, I’ve only been in the e-learning industry for 11 years, but have been using CAI for nearly 20; I believe that blended learning began once people started adding other media to the spoken word: chalk on slate, stick in sand.
    Since then we’ve continued to add to our box of tools. Until about 20 years ago there was a fairly standard set of tools, but with the advent of the internet and all of the possibilities that sort of technology brings, the increase in available tools has become exponential.
    Can you remember your excitement when you got your first pack of coloured chalks? The possibilities seemed endless. But even then control had to be maintained. In flying training, to maintain consistency for the student and give a level of importance, we used certain colours to denote specific aspects of the training. We now have a lot more colours in our tool box.
    So, all of this technology is great: well it is if used correctly. What message does red chalk convey? And what about green?
    I agree with your ‘bottom line’; it’s all about satisfying the training need. But I would suggest the following list of basic questions needs asking, probably  in the order given:

    • What is the business need?
    • What are the training needs?
    • What are the learning outcomes?
    • What are the objectives?
    • How will the objectives be tested to prove the desired learning outcomes?
    • What are the needs of the target audience?
    • What is the culture of the target audience?
    • Which ‘blended interventions’ will enhance the effectiveness of the training for these objectives and this target audience?
    • Are the objectives satisfied by the learning solution?

    For training designers the bottom line is about self-control: it’s not a sweet shop; it’s not about frivolous engagement. But it does give a greater opportunity to satisfy different learning styles. Choosing the most effective intervention for the desired learning outcomes and target audience is vital. In many ways we only get one shot and if we miss with that we then have to rebuild our relationship with the learner.
    One of the good things about all of the newer technology is that we get to bring back some social learning into what used to be a fairly solitary e-learning environment.

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