Blended Learning: What’s all the fuss about?

blended learning

There has been a bit of hype at the beginning of this year about blended learning and it seems to be a topic at this year’s Learning Technologies 2015 conference in the UK. I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with the term ‘blended learning’. The traditional idea of a blended learning environment is a mixture of face to face and online. Sometimes this doesn’t always sit well with me and honestly leaves me feeling a little confined!

Before I begin any blended learning intervention, I always reflect on why I’m implementing a blend. Is it just to make delivery of content easier, am I just trying to impress the higher powers or is there deeper, critical thinking behind it. There are many interpretations of what blending learning should be. A friend in the industry recently pointed out that the “idea behind blended learning is to get the best of both worlds; the efficiency and administrative benefits of online learning within the engaging, social environment of the classroom”. This did not sit well with me….why can’t I create an engaging, social environment using new technologies? ….why can’t I break the mould?

I once read a paper on using blended learning for leadership from the Centre for Creative Leadership.

True Blended Learning isn’t merely mixing classroom and virtual training events. Instead, it’s a combination of formal learning combined with workplace-based or “informal” learning opportunities—addressing all segments of the 70-20-10 rule.
Eureka! I began to reflect more on my own practice and how I design and facilitate my courses. For me it makes more sense not to confine my thinking that blended must include some form of face to face. As long as you’re blended strategy is covering elements of both formal and informal including workplace based/immersion activities…………… is that not what a true blended experience should be?

Talk is cheap. Not only do a spend time thinking and writing about this, I’ve actually got to put it into practice as well. I facilitate courses that are completely online using a blended model based loosely on our old friend 70:20:10. An outline of how I facilitate one of my courses is illustrated in the image. In our Master eLearning Course there is no face to face component but we try and create an engaging social environment using other methods.

So if you are not doing it already, why not break the mould! Go crazy! Don’t confine or restrict your blending learning experiences to face to face but look at the bigger picture of including formal and informal or look at it through the lens of 70:20:10; real life, relationships and training.

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