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Get Clear About Blended Learning

The definition

Often definitions of blended learning employ culinary metaphors; you may not be a cook but you probably eat, so these terms should be familiar to you!

  • a mixture of ingredients which make the ideal dish,
  • a variety of drinks whisked together to form a cocktail,
  • a list of dishes put together to form the ideal menu.

Does this difficulty of agreeing a definition devalue what blended learning is or does this infinite variety offer the best and most flexible way of responding to a learner’s needs?

To summarise most current thought there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and it really is a case of “horses for courses’!

When we say ‘traditional’ we probably mean F2F, classroom based training, right? Well, I’m not saying do away with F2F altogether OR go over to a complete e-learning system.

Brainstorm the tools with your colleagues and I bet you come up with all of these and perhaps some more!

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  • Web cams for meetings and coaching
  • Webinars
  • Online assessment tools
  • Telephone coaching and mentoring
  • E-mail coaching
  • Online training tools
  • Social networking media
  • Group forums
  • Action learning sets
  • Telephone
  • Conference calls
  • Web conferencing
  • Video conferencing
  • Pod casts
  • Teleclasses
  • Teleconferences
  • Text messages
  • Instant messaging; can be used by groups
  • Downloads
  • Blogs
  • Wikis; websites where users contribute to the content
  • CD/ROM courseware
  • Books
  • VOIP
  • TV and video
  • M-learning – delivered to mobile devices, mobile ‘phones, IPODs etc

Which of these do YOU use in your companies?

Which methods are the most effective?

How do you decide which to use?

How to build the blend

Your basic questions need to be around the following issues (as with ‘traditional” training):

  • The learning objectives for the programme
  • How the training will be assessed and evaluated
  • The needs of the target audience
  • How value will be added to the business by the programme

When you are building your blend you will need to consider all four aspects but don’t forget to go back to your learning objectives every time THEN choose the methods!

Kate Cobb is Director of blended learning zone. She was commissioned to write “Blended Learning” for the CIPD L&D Journal in 2008 and is a published author of training books and manuals. She provides a range of services for HR and L&D managers in design and delivery, consultancy and strategic planning of blended learning solutions.

Kate has over 25 years experience as a management training consultant providing F2F training, executive coaching and instructional design services for a wide variety of clients in UK, Europe and the Middle East in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.

Download Kate’s white paper “Blended learning – the way Forward?” and receive a 2010 Survey of Blended Learning http://www.blendedlearningzone.com/index.html

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