Blended Learning

Blended learning is one of those things which mean different things to different people. Ask four people what they think about blended learning, and you will probably get five replies. Thats actually just about average, because i could come up with three different replies to the question, depending on time of day, day of week, wind speed, humidity, and a number of other factors, too many to mention.

So what exactly is blended learning? I don’t quite know. Thats not to say that i am not trying to find out, but i cant quite define it in one sentence, and i believe that if you cant define something in one sentence, you probably don’t know what it is. I can try to describe what blended learning is, from my perspective, which, while being different from yours, could complement the way you define it. Whatever way you define it, the idea is very simple, even though the definition may not be. The idea is that the learning objectives could be achieved through a mix of face-to-face training and online training. This is why blended learning is about a mix of classroom training and e-learning.

Thing is, we need to look at the very concept of blended learning to understand what it is all about, and why it is important. An interesting one i had blogged about was one which talked about how training started being a fully classroom based activity. Over a period of time, given constraints, e-learning came into the picture, and the assumption was that whatever ILT could do, e-learning could do better. This, however, ignored the importance of people-to-people interactions in the learning process, and led to the development of the concept of blended learning where classroom and online learning are blended.

This is where i believe we need to relook at the concept of blended learning. To begin with, a blended learning approach needs to look at learning as a process and not an activity. This means that there must be a series of activities which facilitate the learning process, and one of these activities is training. This process could have a set of other activities which are structured around people interacting with content, or people interacting with people to facilitate learning from a number a sources in a number of ways. To take an example, learning could be facilitated by KM processes and systems in a way where people could be connected with relevant content from the KM portal as supplementing training. In addition, learning could also be facilitated by building the social connections of learners where they could interact, share, and in the process, learn from each other.

What am i trying to say? Essentially, that blended learning as an approach is about leveraging training, e-learning, KM, social networks, so they together can facilitate the learning process. In a way, this could be named social learning, though social is one aspect of this way of defining it.


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