Now for those of you who have read a few of my posts might think that a very strange statement. Those who know me well professionally will certainly be taken aback – after all, to them, I must sound like a broken record (for those who don’t remember records, think scratched CD!) because I’m always banging on about how anyone remotely involved in designing learning should first learn all there is to know about blended learning.
So why am I considering a change of name? Because there are still a lot of people out there who don’t understand what blended learning is (see my post about the myth of blended learning). In my view, the blended learning approach is the foundation on which all other learning and training components are built upon.
My earlier post talked about how some people think blended learning is a what I refer to as the eLearning sandwich (eLearning tutorial+classroom+eLearning tutorial); some people think it’s a classroom course with some computer work included within it; some people think it has to include classroom; some people think that it has to include some computer-based or online activity. Well, it may surprise you to hear that none of the above are true – and yet – all are true. How can this be?
I confess that in this day and age it is very unlikely that any learning solution will not include some sort of electronic activity. However, it may be there is none. It all boils down to putting together a solution that is right for the situation – and that situation may not have any access to great technology. There are too many variables to cover here.
If we consider what Clive Shepherd calls ‘the logical approach’ in his Blended Learning Cook book (1st and 2nd edition), (see my review) we should first establish the current situation before embarking on determining the strategy for putting forward the learning solution. This means we need to make a detailed analysis: a lengthy process so often skimped.
Without this we don’t know our audience enough, we don’t know the resources we have or haven’t got, and we may not even know if there is a valid learning need. Once we have all this information we can establish the most appropriate activities relevant for the audience and subject matter and be able to determine the most efficient way of delivering them. It will also determine whether it is appropriate to go down the formal training route or the less formal approach of coaching, just in time resources, an ‘in at the deep end’ or a mixture.
Once we’ve set out our framework we can then start designing the individual components, facilitating and supporting as my diagram explains.
So this is why ‘blended learning’ is the foundation of any learning solution and why it should be the first step for everyone needing to determine the best learning strategy for their organisations. But what should we call it? What about just LEARNING!