Some people may say that blended learning isn’t really about learning at all and that it’s really blended training. In many cases they’re right, not because blended learning imposes any such limitation, but because of the limited thinking of those who design it. If you think that blended learning = classroom + elearning then that’s all you will produce (and lord help your audience).
I’ve previously said here that blended learning is about a lot more than classrooms and elearning – and in fact it may not include either of them. Blended can be so much more if we stretch our thinking beyond the formal and the top down.
We’ve seen learning design shift from being almost entirely about push (courses) to being mostly about pull (resources). That’s a really good thing and something that we should be building into our designs – but perhaps we should be going further.
It was Nick Shackleton-Jones who coined the phrase “from courses to resources” (thanks Nick, I’ve used it many times), so I was interested to see a post from him which challenged us to consider The Big Picture and extend our thinking even further into courses, resources and apps. Nick sums it up really nicely:
- Courses – Prepare you for the future
- Resources – Support you in the moment
- Apps – Guide your behaviour
We know that our learning design needs to extend beyond the input stage into application and follow up – and a course just can’t do that. But should we, as Nick suggests, be designing solutions that ‘eliminate learning’?
I think we should. I believe that in a blended design nothing should be out of scope. Our goal should be to identify and provide the most effective and efficient route to achieving performance.
We already recognise that as responsible learning professionals we should be honest with our stakeholders, and if a traditional learning intervention won’t meet their need we should tell them. But that shouldn’t mean that we say “sorry we can’t help” and then move on.
The blend has already extended beyond courses, why shouldn’t we go further?