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.