The future of blended learning – reflections from the e-Learning Network event

Yesterday saw the first regional ELN event for 2015 with a packed house joining us in the beautiful Bristol and Bath Science Park. The focus of day was on The Future of The Blend and I wanted to share with you my reflections from a superb event.

The future of blended learning

BiStock_000044043766_Largelended learning is more than an issue of content – it where all the key element of learning strategy come together. It’s the blend of a range of learning design techniques, technologies and supporting skills that create the entire learning journey. Even more than this, an article back in May from EdSurge argues that asking is blended learning will work is in itself the wrong question because the answer you’ll get is ‘it depends’.  They are quite right – because blended learning is an expression of the particular learning need, strategy, culture and environment so every context needs a different solution.  But what it does demonstrate is that blended learning solutions (multi modality, formal and informal mixes, quick up-skilling and substantive academies) are here to stay and more representative of how we learn.

To address the important learning needs for your organisation, your learners will expect more than a single intervention, even if that’s what you deliver.     They’ll try and fill in the gaps themselves but this is time consuming, difficult to make relevant, varying in quality and can be distracting. It’s the role of today’s L&D team to deliver expertly blended formal and informal learning that is truly aligned to business need and utterly relevant.

When discussing current approaches to blended learning, there has been an argument put forward that in the connected age and more of our social lives being lived online, that perhaps the answer is to open everything up, make it all informal and learner led.  However,  just as face-to-face alone is not the most effective learning journey or gamification will not be the cure all to motivating learners, when considering informal and formal learning is not an either/all decision. An effective formal learning scaffold can provide the right environment for intensive informal knowledge sharing, dialogue and peer support. By distilling the key topics into well-designed formal learning (which could include e-learning modules, videos either created or curated from sources such as TED, eBooks, diagnostics etc.) it helps set the scene and context for more meaningful informal exchanges. WillowDNA are sponsoring the next e-Learning Network event to be held at the prestigious Bristol and Bath Science Park, where the focus for the day will be on new directions in e-learning.  We’ll be taking a look at what blended learning means in 2015, including an Open Space session exploring a range of possible directions that e-learning might take in 2016.  The event is free for members and it costs just £29 for an annual membership.

Get your free guides to creating great online learning in just 5 days

We are very excited about the launch of our new series of guides on ‘5 days to Success: Creating great online learning in just 1 week’. Our first guide is available down for download from our site here.  It is taken from our ‘5 days to success’ workshop so if you like what you read, why not sign up for a place on our next session on 29th March 2012 at Southwark Cathedral.  Places are currently just £99 for those that book in the next 2 weeks, so secure your place today!

Encouraging results from online delivery of CBT interventions

Very interested to read the BBC News story last week on a paper published in the Lancet recently. It explores the delivery of online therapeutic solutions to teenagers suffering chronic fatigue syndrome. What is particularly interesting is that the intervention used was a form of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) delivered online with access to an expert via discussion boards. With the severe shortage of qualified CBT therapists, it is an exciting way to increase the access to this valuable technique. Being a psychology graduate, it’s really exciting to read, given the proven benefits of CBT as an intervention compared to other therapeutic or pharmacological treatment packages. So if online could provide a highly effective delivery mechanism, this could be very significant indeed.

Sign up for our 5 free tools for online learning success

In conjunction with our one day workshop ‘5 days to success: great online learning in just one week’ on 29th March 2012 at Southwark Cathedral, London, we are giving away a guide a week over the next 5 weeks.  These guides will help you plan, develop and launch great online learning in just 5 days, using techniques from Willow’s Learning Pathway approach. By taking e-learning out of the box, you can take even the most complex subjects online.  Our free guides will help support some of the most important activities to complete in order to develop a great learning design, create great learning resources and encourage great learner interaction. To get your free guides, sign up here.  You’ll also find more information on our workshop and how to book your place here.

Clive on cupcakes

Whilst it’s not an analogy that has ever crossed my mind, as an enthusiastic baker, Clive Sheppard’s last post on his blog ‘Clive on Learning’ had me intrigued. His summary of Laura Leyton-Jones ‘learning cupcakes’ Clive on Learning: Laura’s learning cupcakes describes rather well what we’ve been doing here at Willow for our clients for many years, so if you like your learning bite sized rather than bloated, speak to us!