Blended Learning: Things to Think About

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Designing, building, and deploying blended learning is often like a 3D puzzle: interesting and sometimes challenging. Here are few considerations and design assumptions to keep in mind:

Understand the roots and history of blended learning: Blended learning has a deep history (and it continues to evolve). Here are a couple of resources (among many): The History of Blended Learning, The Handbook of Blended Learning: Global Perspectives, Local Designs.

Be judicious: Blended learning isn’t useful in every situation. It shouldn’t be the “go to” response when a qualified training need is identified. Seek a simpler solution first. For example, when a job aid is sufficient and appropriate, use a job aid.

Keep it simple: Sometimes interdependencies of blended learning make it complex to deploy, manage, and maintain. If your organization doesn’t have the will, the resources, or technology to make it run well, design a less complex solution.

Strive for a consistent learner experience: Just because the design and engineering in the background is complex, doesn’t mean it needs to be difficult for the learner. Make it easy on the learner. Learner Experience Across Modalities: A Learning Leader Challenge

Measure what matters: Identify measurements and design methods from the beginning and be selective – not everything needs to be measured. Creating a Data-Driven Learning Strategy, 8 Tips for Successful Training Measurement

Don’t be seduced: Elliot Masie said “the magic is in the mix.”(1)  A challenge we all face is putting together an appropriate and effective blend, while avoiding being seduced by flashy new, yet unproven, training modalities.

In addition, stakeholders often have predispositions that affect design choices.  Here are a few of the things we watch out for:

  • Do the stakeholders see the outcome as a “training event” (e.g., a class) or as a means to achieving a worthwhile business or performance outcome?

  • Do the stakeholders want to see a solution that is a one-time event, or are the willing to consider a solution that takes place over a span of time?

  • Do existing organizational silos and spans of control affect who “owns” the solution? If the ownership is diffused, is the organization willing to take on the coordination?

  • Are the stakeholders willing to embrace a new or different approach (one that they may not have seen or experienced before)?

  • Are the stakeholders willing to support a new way of doing things by taking a visible leadership role in change management or deployment efforts?

(1) Masie, E., The Handbook of Blended Learning, 2006, p. 24

Brian BleckeComment