Learning Series – (Part 3)
Blended Learning Approaches
In our earlier post – Learning Series – Why Blended Learning Strategy (Part 2), we went on to see why Blended Learning and the three primary reasons why blended learning is used.
Dependent upon your definition of blended learning, you can argue that there are as many approaches to blended learning as there are various combinations of all the different media available. What becomes paramount to a winning training strategy is the instructional design strategy and approach. It all starts here, and the decisions that are made here ripple throughout the learning. Poor instructional design choices cannot be covered up by slick programming or outstanding graphics. A poorly designed training session will still be a poorly designed learning event, regardless of how fancy the animations or how sophisticated the delivery. The only difference is how much money is lost in the process.
Futureshift Learning distills blended learning approaches into two major categories: learner-centric and business-centric drivers.
Poor instructional design choices cannot be covered up by slick programming or outstanding graphics. A poorly designed training session will still be a poorly designed learning event regardless of how fancy animations or how sophisticated the delivery. The difference is how much money is flushed away in the process.
A learner-centric approach provides considerable upfront instructional design emphasis on the learner and the learner’s conditions of learning; for example, the use of Gagne’s The Five Conditions of Learning, which includes five categories of learning: verbal information, intellectual skills, cognitive strategies, attitudes, and motor skills. Learner centric approaches rely upon sound upfront instructional systems design. The tried and true analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate (ADDIE) process starts with analysis and include evaluation throughout its process model. Adherence to these processes ensures that the training created is designed to provide maximum transference to the learner, thereby optimizing the available solutions to the learner.
The intent of a learning event is to transfer knowledge, skills, and/or abilities to a learner. Therefore, you could assume that all approaches are learner centric; however, this is not the case. The core of a business centric approach is the reality of understanding and meeting the business drivers. Learning in and of itself is a great thing, but it is not always a company’s primary mission to educate their workforce. Manufacturing and productivity are requirements that must be met; therefore, the business demand can dictate the design steps and decisions just as readily as a focus on the learner.
Training exists in many forms, and certainly, it depends on the content to determine the need for complexity. For example, if the business driver is to ensure that all employees receive training concerning changes to administrative practice, the training design should be limited to communication. Conversely, should the situation involve the deployment of a brownfield launch, including new manufacturing equipment, the business impact will drive the design decisions, this time with a very robust modality. These two approaches are not necessarily mutually exclusive of one another. With some creative forethought and design, many learning projects handily weave both learner needs and business needs into the final design. In the next post, we will visit the Blended Learning Design Models – Learning Series – Blended Learning Design Models (Part 4).