Training or Learning?

In a recent post I asked the question “what really is blended learning?” after hearing many people describe it as being classroom plus e-learning. Well, before we can establish what blended learning really is, there are a few things I’d like to explore in more detail.

1. the difference between training and learning
2. what is good classroom

When asking various people how they would differentiate between training and learning, here are some of the thoughts they’ve come back with:

Training = formal, push information, very tutor focussed, defined event(s), structured, something that’s done to them, interactive, just in case, series of events, step by step,

Learning = more learner-focussed, longer term, continuous, ongoing, pull information, self-motivated, just in time, on-demand, supporting, mixture of formal, semi-formal and informal, sharing, experiential

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last 2 years, you would have undoubtedly heard about how we deliver learning programmes needs to move away from formal training events towards more of a continuous learning process. This doesn’t mean we will be doing away with the formal trainining events but more about how we can use them more appropriately.

When we talk about formal training events, we tend to think about classroom courses. That is, where two or more people are gathered together for a set period of time to be formally taken through a set topic relevant to their working practices. With even the most effectively designed classroom courses that engage, filled with activities, they can also be a very inefficient way of delivering the learning.

Looking back over the years, our classroom courses have included a rich variety of learning activities or methods. So let’s take a look into the past and remember what we have used for great classroom experiences:
Tutor-led discussion
group discussion
role plays
individual work
case studies
problem solving games
A real rich mix of activities there. Hang on a minute? Isn’t that blended learning? Well, not really. It’s blended training. What it does confirm however is that for effective learning our training needs to have an appropriate blend of learning activities. Today, however, the emphasis is increasingly on learning through the conversations we have with each other. Despite classroom delivery being very effective it’s often an inefficient way of learning. Why? Because there is a limit to how many people we reach at any one time. There are different levels of experience in the room. There’s different speeds at which people learn and more reflection time needed by some. There are hidden costs associated with attending events such as travel and time away from job as well as the possible need to bring in temporary staff to cover.

Organisations have recognised that and are thinking of alternative ways of covering some of the learning traditionally done in the classroom. But is tagging this content on either side of the classroom as e-learning self-study the answer? Maybe – but before we can decide whether it is appropriate I have another question for you. What really is e-learning?

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