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Blended: The Next Big Thing

Ellen Schuurink / 10 March 2014

Blended The Next Big Thing

Blended learning has been around for years as shown in the diagram below, but has never been a really popular search item. Blended learning is a combination of different training delivery modes, most frequently referred to as a combination of Instructor-led training (classroom) and eLearning.

Job posting statistics show a rising trend, at their peak in 2012, for job postings containing the word ‘blended learning’. In addition, Training Industry has listed Blending of Content in their top 8 trends for 2014 (Training Industry, Winter 2014 edition). Why this sudden rise of interest for blending content? The answer is that the perception of blended learning is changing.

Google Trends Moocs

The Flipped Classroom

One of the recent popular applications of blended learning is called the Flipped Classroom. In traditional classes, the instructor/teacher lectures throughout most of the day and assignments are done as homework. In a Flipped Classroom, the instructor facilitates the assignments and reading and viewing of theory and concepts are done as homework. The Flipped Classroom is especially popular in primary and secondary school, as the new generation teachers are introducing more technology into the classroom environment. Also lots of guidance, tips and tricks are shared online. An example is this (humorous) guy explaining how to create homework for a Flipped Classroom.
Click here to watch video

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

Another application of Blended learning can be found in the form of MOOCs. Although we’ve passed the new, thrilling and disturbing phase, and have reached more of a, “let’s see if the MOOCs will actually achieve their intended goals” phase, they show an interesting new blend of learning strategies. Within the “online mode” they combine video, web reading, discussion and co-creation aspects. A good MOOC not only has diverse and attractive content, but also an alluring curriculum and strong communications to keep the learners engaged. And blending even further, MOOC’s are combined with Classroom Sessions. Refer to the implications of online content used in this article.

As both examples show, the somewhat technical term of “blended learning” is applied in a new context. More blends are expected, as mobile learning is also becoming a serious learning intervention. Learners are used to (more than ever before) to learning anytime, anywhere; and with their smartphones and tablets, they have easy access to the content. But learning on the fly is very different from full-on studying for a certificate. The content and the program needs to align with the objectives. This is the challenge that the learning and development professional currently has, “how to create the perfect blend?”

Read more about different blended models and some good examples in this Infographic.

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