With a plethora of learning possibilities available to us in the modern workplace, it’s important to be aware of what’s available to have a mixed media approach when creating blended learning.
Technology is changing all the time, which means that keeping up to speed with what is on offer and what it actually does, can be a minefield. We have summarised some of the most common digital components you can use in a blend to help you start to identify the most suitable options for your learners.
eLearning is an engaging and interactive online learning module. It’s very effective for delivering content that is fairly static (not subject to frequent change) and foundation knowledge, or the ‘theory’ before diving into a more blended hands on approach for skill practice.
This doesn’t have to mean expensive corporate videos, although these definitely have their place in induction programmes. With mobile devices now having excellent quality cameras, video clips can be filmed to demonstrate skills in action. You don’t need to be a cameraman or an expert editor, so always think about including video in your blend. And you don’t even have to create your own – YouTube and Ted Talks have a huge selection of videos you can easily include.
A great way to run live training events without the hassle of booking training rooms or conference sites, or incurring any travel costs. These do need careful planning as they are not the same as standing face to face in front of people. The facilitator needs to be experienced in virtual delivery. Ideally, these classrooms should be no more than an hour in duration, and if they are longer then formal breaks should be scheduled. You also need to be subscribed to a conferencing provider such as WebEx, Adobe Connect, GoToMeeting or Skype for Business (formerly Lync).
It’s almost impossible to have a blended programme without some reading. This can be in the form of PDFs, PPTs, eBooks, journal, pre-course work and so on.
There are so many different names for a “forum”, such as message boards, bulletin boards, threaded discussions, discussion boards or discussion groups. The simplistic definition of a forum is a place where people have the ability to start communication (in the form of threads) and reply to other people's threads. A member of the community in the forum posts a message, which is visible to everyone in that community. Once read, there is the option to post a reply, which can also be visible to the community. Thus, a discussion can build up without all users having to be online at the same time. This is great for Q&As for a particular programme, and anyone who has been on the same event can contribute.
Social Networking is very much like forums. The difference is they are usually locked down to a particular cohort or group of people. For example, Group 1 of a Leadership Programme would only see each other’s comments, whereas Group 2 will be a separate group. Examples of social networking within a blended programme are closed LinkedIn groups and Yammer.
Short for Web-based seminar, a webinar is a presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar that is transmitted over the Web. A key feature of a Webinar is its interactive elements - the ability to give, receive and discuss information. This is contrast with Webcast, in which the data transmission is one way and does not allow interaction between the presenter and the audience.
Knowledge Management (KM)
Assessments are an important part of the blend to check that learners understand what they have learnt. They don’t have to be formal assessments with a pass or fail but can be informal such as quizzes, questionnaires or surveys.
Blogs are an online journal, usually (but not always) written by one person and are updated regularly. They are often (but not always) written on a particular topic – there are blogs on virtually any topic you can think of. Whole blog communities have sprung up, putting people into contact with each other in relationships where they can learn, share ideas, make friends and even do business with people from around the world who share similar interests. Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, Web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs.
The most popular format of a podcast is MP3. Podcasting is a form of audio broadcasting which delivers messages or learning content. It is particularly popular for groups such as sales reps who are on the road a lot, and can easily listen to learning but may struggle to work online.
RSS stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’. Many people describe it as a ‘news feed’ that you subscribe to. RSS is like subscribing to a magazine that is delivered to you periodically to your ‘RSS Reader’ every time your favourite website updates. RSS is not appropriate for all blended learning programmes, but is worth considering if, for example, part of the blend is to link out to external industry sites.
Almost anything is possible with blended learning. The challenging part is creating the different elements.
Kerry Pascall, Head of Digital Learning, Bray Leino Learning
In my series of blogs you can expect some tips on implementing eLearning, what to consider when commissioning eLearning, design tips, software and authoring pro’s and con’s, and general advice on everything eLearning!
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