The Blended Learning Myth – e-learning plus classroom!

I recently had a conversation with someone who was interested in designing more engaging e-learning but they weren’t sure where to start when deciding which of the suite of training programmes to sign up for. During the conversation I mentioned that it would also benefit him to consider looking into blended learning which would give him more of an idea how e-learning (as he interpreted e-learning i.e. self study modules) could be considered working as part of a blended solution. At the time he was adamant he wasn’t at all interested in blended learning because he wouldn’t be involved in designing or delivering classroom courses.

I hear a similar response from others on my programmes when asked the question “what do you think blended learning is?” The definitions from my students from a classroom design/delivery background are along the lines of “a mix of e-learning and classroom” mainly describing the e-learning as the ‘pre-course work’ in preparation for classroom events.
I have been running programmes on blended learning for a number of years and although there are more people attending with a less blinkered view, I am surprised there are still so many under this impression given the plethora of resources out there extolling the virtues of various online options.

This then reminded me of another conversation I had some months back after a presentation I co-delivered on how learning is changing. This person mentioned he had already attended a course on blended learning and as a result, he didn’t think blended learning was appropriate at that time. After a little investigation into why he thought that way, it turned out that this particular company stipulated that a blended learning solution wasn’t a true blended solution unless it included e-learning. Now I only had this person’s side of the story but it didn’t surprise me as the company providing the course was an e-learning provider.

No wonder learning and development professionals are confused and sceptical about considering blended learning as a solution. Until we know what blended learning really is, how can we consider it as an appropriate solution? So if e-learning plus classroom isn’t blended learning, what is….?

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