When I started my career in L&D, a blended learning solution would have been any programme that had an additional element to the face to face part of the programme, perhaps some pre-reading or a questionnaire. Nowadays, more often than not, when people think about blended learning they tend to think it is any learning that has a digital element to it.
Both views are in my opinion quite restrictive, so when I think about blended learning I try to think more broadly than that and allow myself the flexibility to have more than one delivery method. In fact, for me it is not about the number or type of delivery methods, it is more like a recipe, what ingredients do I need to ensure that I help my learners achieve their goals? Then I consider how I am going to mix them together to get the best consistency and combination for the greatest chance of success. Finally, how am I going to serve it – face to face, digitally, a combination – to ensure its consumption is enjoyable and rewarding?
However, when we design learning based on the key drivers of:
- Making it digital
- Reducing face to face learning
We often don’t end up with blended learning at all, but more likely:
- A “classroom sandwich” where someone has just taken the knowledge aspect out of an existing face to face programme and delivered it to the learner as pre reading, perhaps a PDF or a slide show (at worst) or turned it into a task (at best). Then, after the actual face to face event, they circulate a Ted talk as a reminder of some of the key learning points.
- A “content avalanche”. By getting carried away with all the resources available, and the delivery methods to provide it to the learner, the sheer choice seems to blind people to the impact that will have. Shifting from courses to resources might literally deliver digital learning but will it achieve its aims?
So, what is the ideal “blended recipe”? It is, of course, back to basic principles which would apply to any recipe, such as baking a cake. What type of cake do you want, what is your budget, what are the best ingredients you can afford, and should you use the best china?
For me, using 70 20 10 as part of my design principles help, for example, how can I make this experiential? Is it a face to face experience, an interactive video, eLearning programme or game? How can I encourage social? With a closed Linked in group, action learning sets, buddy’s, formal or informal coaching? What underpinning knowledge is required and how can this be delivered perhaps via video, eLearning, or something much simpler like a PDF of top tips?
I also like to consider how much information any one person can take on board at only one time, and “chunk” the learning into modules or more easily digested sessions.
Repurposing existing programmes and content is a very real and valid objective for many organisations and in order to get a true blend, I would suggest reengineering the whole programme. If you challenge yourself to “reengineer” you challenge yourself to reinvent. When you set out to repurpose, you tend to constrain yourself to just reworking what you have.
So, start reengineering and use these principles, or ingredients, to achieve truly blended learning, time after time.
Interested in finding out more about a blended learning approach and the results it can achieve? Get in touch with us today, and take a look at our recent webinar, ‘Deliver Results-Driven Blended Learning Solutions’ here.
Stephanie Morgan FLPI, Director of Learning Solutions, Bray Leino Learning
Sharing ideas and observations to help improve performance.
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