By Jeremy Blain Regional Managing Director, Cegos Asia Pacific
And Robert Blandford Head of Learning, TP3
There’s no doubt that interest in Blended Learning has been gathering pace for some time, and that there’s no crescendo in sight anytime soon.
Like any good recipe, when Blended Learning is executed well—mixing different learning environments and forms of delivery such as face-to-face activities with e-learning and other technology-led learning activities like online assessments—there’s a greater acquisition of knowledge, building of skills and, ultimately, greater impact on personal and business growth and productivity.
What’s behind the widespread adoption of Blended Learning? The Chartered Institute for Personnel Development in the UK provides a good answer, saying Blended Learning “takes advantage of the potential offered by the myriad of new, online learning technologies, using these alongside the wide range of existing face-to-face and self-study methods to generate new combinations that outperform traditional approaches.”
Put simply, people learn differently—and Blended Learning can help to match the learner with their actual needs and cope with different personality types, preferences and requisites in a way that traditional training does not.
For many organisations, Blended Learning helps answer what to them is a fundamental question—How can I reduce operating costs while at the same time find a way to build and maximise a high-performing workplace?
With recent economic downturns acting as catalysts, and the increased demand for learning and development (L&D) functions to deliver greater value to organisations, faster and with fewer resources, the past few years have seen many of the individual elements of Blended Learning, such as coaching and e-learning, steadily increase in popularity. Given the sum is greater than the individual parts, it’s no surprise that this is one of the many reasons behind the attraction of Blended Learning.
In fact, we could rename it “Blended and Extended Learning.” By its very nature, a blend helps move a learning intervention from ‘days’ to potentially ‘weeks’ or more, but without the disruption to day-to-day work that concentrated traditional classroom training can often entail.
This extended approach also helps in the ongoing reinforcement of learning key messages—that is, the application of new learning and skills back in the workplace— and creates a communication loop with the tutor and/or their supervisor throughout the process.
From its earlier iterations, where it simply combined classroom training with e-learning, Blended Learning today covers every form of learning. It combines a wide range of both formal and informal learning tools, and in this way, learners can select what they consider to be the perfect learning mix for their own development needs.
What is Blended Learning and what isn’t it? How are organisations like yours using Blended Learning to its full potential? What will Blended Learning look like in a future driven by increasing demands on L&D budgets and growing needs of a multi-generational workforce? These are just some of the issues covered in this paper, with focus on Asia Pacific and reference to Australia in particular as one of the more mature markets for multi-mode learning.
And while much has been written about Blended Learning and its different elements, few commentators have focused directly on what Blended Learning means to organisations today, on the future, or on how Blended Learning can be leveraged to the benefit of all. To fully answer these questions, it’s perhaps necessary to first look at the key drivers behind Blended Learning and its different, and quite varied, components.