Monday, October 30, 2006

About Blended Learning

For some reason the concept of "blended learning" has risen to the surface again. Back in September Tony Karrer wrote about it in his post: Blended Learning Dead? - Huh? in which he linked to a post by David Wilson: Is "Blended" really dead? who argues that Europe is ahead of the U.S. in developing true blended learning iniatives. Which is to say, Europe is a few feet out from the starting line, while the U.S. is still tying its shoes. What is relevant from David's post is his understanding of blended learning.
Blended Learning should force us to focus on learning as a process rather than as a series of events. The value of blended learning should be in understanding and describing that process, and then understanding the interplay between and the added value through the components of the process, i.e. the whole design, not just the selection of specific media types. Process-based and integrated.
Tony contends that blended learning is not seriously discussed because it has, in essence become a no-brainer. Everyone either assumes they know what bleneded learning means are already practicing it.

One month later I come across a post/announcement by Rick Nigol at Breakthrough Elearning announcing a webinar to discuss blended learning solutions. In the lead-up to the announcement he talks about what he calls the perfect mix. His mix makes a lot of sense. The mix is decided by:
  • The nature of your learning goals, and
  • The nature of your learners.
This is where I think most corporate initiatives collapse. As David Wilson states, "[m]uch of this blending is not actually very blended. Lowest common
denominator thinking drives decisions to chop down classroom time and
substitute in e-learning content that is not really integrated with the
classroom content.

I think Rick Nigol sums it up best when he states "[g]etting the right mix in blended learning is a lot like cooking. You
want all the constituent ingredients complementing each other, rather
than over-powering each other, and fighting for attention."

I've registered for his webinar on Nov. 2 and I hope to get in because seating is limited. If I can't make the live conference I will look forward to reviewing the recorded webinar.

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