Like many learning terms, ‘blended learning’ has the illusion of being a concrete concept. In practice it is a flexible term that means different things to different people.
The danger is that it is usually seen as a simple method of co-joining some classroom and e-learning. This simple ‘pick and mix’ definition is not enough.
‘What is ‘blended learning’? It is the use of two or more distinct methods of training. This may include combinations such as: blending classroom instruction with online instruction, blending online instruction with access to a coach or faculty member, blending simulations with structured courses, blending on-the-job training with brown bag informal sessions, blending managerial coaching with e-learning activities.’
To design, develop and deliver optimal blends, we need to ask a few questions:
Components are the elements that can be pieced together and integrated into a blended solution.
Six offline component groups:
Six online component groups:
When you are deciding on the right blend of learning delivery methods, there are a number of key factors you have to take into account:
Criteria are the principles and policies, which shape the choice of components in a blended solution.
Let’s consider the following six criteria:
Blends can be a blessing or a curse. Like any recipe with ingredients, it can turn out to be sublime in taste and appearance, modest fare or an ill-cooked mess. We can now consider some models for blends.
The aim here is not to recommend complicated blended learning, without having
considered the components and
criteria first. However, it is worth considering a move from the simple to the more complex in terms of identifiably different approaches to blended learning.
Let’s consider the following four levels of blend:
Collaborative relationships will form between tutors and learners as well as
between learners and learners.
At this level the contributions are regular and the group will be building a sense of community around these
Some key features of an online learning community that lead to success are:
The extra components this model considers are:
An expansive blend takes learning beyond the boundaries of the predictable components of formal learning into the workplace, use of offline print resources, use of electronic media, the web and even mobile learning.
The artificial gulf that exists between formal and informal learning blends
and blurs when other resources are used
in blended learning.
Some key factors in course facilitation: