Blended Learning Model Redefined: 3 Steps To Blend Practitioners With Learners

The Blended Learning Model Redefined In 3 Applicable Steps

Blended learning has many different definitions, all of them denoting something along the lines of 'blending a classroom experience with an online experience'. This is now a given, and we can start thinking about the next iteration of blended learning.

Traditionally, learning has been viewed as knowledge to be passed from a more knowledgeable person (trainer) to a less knowledgeable person (learner). A few decades ago, technology started creeping into the system and allowed the trainers to digitize part of the training content and make it accessible for learners anywhere at any time.

A few years later, technology started playing a key role and was to some extent able to fill the role of a trainer. Learners could study online at home, and later attend class to discuss and analyze their learning. This phenomenon was known as the "flipped classroom", and the approach underpinning this phenomenon is commonly referred to as "blended learning". What has been blended here? "Online learning time plus the offline classroom presence".

Blend Learning With Real-Time Practice

Traditionally defined, blended learning is a mix of online and offline learning allowing the learners to practice what they have learned. The purpose is, however, still rooted in deepening understanding, but not necessarily applying the knowledge to real-time situations. How about blending the learning with real-time "practice"? This is the kind of mix that would yield maximum results because we are dealing with adult learners whose:

  • Orientation to learning has developed from postponed application of learning to immediacy of application.
  • It shifts from a subject centered/trainer driven approach to a problem-centered/learner-driven approach.

Now, combine this perspective with the 70-20-10 learning model that states that:

“70 per cent of knowledge is derived from experience, 20 per cent comes from observing others, and only 10 per cent comes from formal training classes.”

according to the article "70:20:10 training model is 'most effective for learners', research finds" by the CIPD [1].

We redefine blended learning as blending the learning with actual real-time practice, so learners can benefit from the tacit knowledge of the practitioners, and start applying the knowledge immediately to their work situations to solve real problems.

How To Initiate Blended Learning Redefined?

1. Identify A Subject Matter Expert (SME) And Swap Roles

Who knows the trade better than the tradesmen themselves? The same principle applies to any industry, and we strongly believe that knowledge exists in conversations and in the working minds of practitioners. Learning and Development (L&D) should capitalize on this tacit knowledge and help to communicate this relevant learning content to the learners. Gone are the days of 'sage on stage'. L&D has started embracing the new role of a facilitator anyway (according to this whitepaper). L&D should identify the SMEs who could share their knowledge, and then empower them with right tools to do so.

2. Millennials Are Ahead Of The Curve, Treat Them As Such

Today’s millennial learner is a different breed of learner, who needs the following:

  • Millennials join a firm and jump on board immediately with minimal guidance or onboarding.
  • Millennials seek immediate answers/clarifications, to keep up with the speed of the business.
  • Millennials prefer learning content that is highly relevant to their job and immediately applicable to their work. Context is gained from real-time experiences, learning content must often be problem-solving.

3. Empower Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) With The Right Tools

The final step is to equip the SME with the right tools, give them easy-to-use tools that they don’t need to break the internet to learn about. Think of authoring tools that can be easily embedded in their work ecosystem and not gigantic management systems to hold learners’ hands. Tools are only a medium to help articulate the hidden tacit knowledge. Inspire the SMEs by reminding them of their worth and empowering them with intuitive tools to continue sharing the knowledge, but with shape and form.

As mentioned earlier, encourage the SMEs to share the knowledge they experience as part of their job, and not as fancy end-to-end courses. The principle is to "Keep it real and keep it simple"!

Blended Learning And The Need For Speed

The key to remain business-relevant and industry-ready is to align the organization’s learning with the speed of business. Organizations must partner with the employees to rapidly create content and leverage simple tools that are easy to author, and distribute, and that allow learning and information to be provided to employees at any time/in any place. This approach clearly helps because it quickly fills the knowledge gaps in a far more flexible way than traditional training and, secondly, it comes as a practical ready-to-apply solution from experienced employees, which is a lot more effective for knowledge transfer than a fully-fledged course.

Leverage the tacit knowledge and internal expertise. When employees find a solution or invent a new technology, help them capture that knowledge through UGC tools and scale the knowledge to the enterprise through knowledge sharing via social learning, aka 'communities of practice'.

This will help blend the practice with effective learning at a rapid pace! All you need is an equally capable authoring tool.

3 Actionable Steps To Kickstart Blended Learning, Redefined

  • Allows the SMEs to turn their knowledge into learning resources, authoring tools like Easygenerator to offer a zero learning curve solution.
  • Liberate the L&D executives to focus on creating content and not on the learning curve of the tool. This whitepaper breaks down how enterprises like Akzo Nobel, Nielsen and Kaplan did it.
  • Create learning nuggets and resources that are learner friendly.

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  1. 70:20:10 training model is 'most effective for learners', research finds
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