A How-to on Blended Learning


This how-to on blended learning will help you understand the best way to deliver specific content to different target groups of learners.

Blended learning has recently become a buzz word and seems to be on its way as the “go to” approach in learning design and delivery.

What is Blended Learning?

Blended learning uses one or more modality (delivery) to create a blended solution that can meet specific, identified learning or training needs. It uses more than a single approach to learning. This can include the combination of several forms of learning such as:

  • Classroom instructor teaching

  • Elearning

  • Online learning

  • Virtual classroom

  • Synchronous (live, real time) or asynchronous (available whenever accessed)

Blended learning is:

  • interactive and multi-dimensional.

Blended learning is not:

  • one directional from instructor to learner.

Every learner learns differently and learning can be delivered in various forms. Blended learning provides flexibility -- it can be designed to meet learners’ needs from various perspectives.

For example it supports learners who:

  • Learn best by first reading text

  • Want to listen to an audio summary

  • Like to interact with peers to discuss content material

  • Are not physically near one another

A blended learning delivery can include a self-directed component (such as an elearning course) as a prerequisite for learners. This ensures basic understanding of a topic to even out knowledge levels before meeting in a face-to-face classroom or for a synchronous webinar.

Start Planning a Blended Learning Program

Blended learning uses a mix and match approach to meet learners' needs and expected learning outcomes. First, identify the knowledge needs and gaps of learners, who they are and how they like to learn, and determine expected learning outcomes and performance goals, then develop a strategy that supports it.

Developing a blended learning approach includes three phases:

  1. Identify expected learning outcomes - Plan the learning based on content needs and expected outcomes

  2. Determine learning delivery - Evaluate which modality is suited to the end learner and the content type and needs

  3. Manage learners’ progress - Oversee learners’ progress and provide post learning support as communities of practice or through established reference portals

Blended Learning is Self-directed

Offering a blended solution provides opportunities for learners to learn in whatever way suits them best. Since blended learning can include several different components, learners need to be self-directed to complete all requirements of a blended program.

Think about how to ensure learners are supported through the complete lifecycle of a learning event. For example, learners may be responsible to download documentation after a synchronous webinar in order to prepare for a discussion during a community of practice, or are required to complete a video before an online webinar.

  • Questions to consider when offering blended learning:

  • Who ensures each learner follows up on given assignments?

  • Who provides the support a learner may need to complete it?

Summary

Though there are many parts to blended learning, designing a program starts the same way any learning program is developed:

  • Identify who the learner is

  • Determine what knowledge or information needs to be learned

  • Assess what is the best way to deliver and share the information

  • Develop a process to manage learners' needs and oversee the delivery

Your comments or questions about how-to begin a blended learning program are welcome.

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