Check out this white paper by The American Management Association (AMA) on their approach to offering Blended Learning solutions. (These guys are a HUGE training solutions firm that contract with federal and state governments and major corporations.)
The AMA criticizes traditional, desktop-eLearning in favor of a customized blended learning approach.
“Self-training (e.g., e-learning) faces four major challenges: The ability
to get employees motivated on their own; No access to continuous
personalized support; No other learning tools besides the course materials
employees and managers use; No extensive hands-on practice so new
skills can be immediately applied on the job.”
The white paper addresses three distinct blends. Their Bookend BL theory (p.11) focuses less on blending classroom time with out-of-class time or which technologies to blend, and more on a blend of when to engage the learner. They identify three periods of learning:
1. “Plan and Prepare” (online)
2. “Interact” (Live training)
3. “Apply” (On the Job training)
This three-time-period Bookend Blend model is my favorite of the three when considering business training solutions. However, I wonder if there is an optimal blend of time and energy to focus on each. It makes sense that less time would be required up front to gain the learner’s attention or recall prior knowledge (Gagné, 1985). Would it be a 20-40-40 percent blend? 10-80-10? I think the most successful model would be one that is flexible to the learning, depending on his or her pre and post-assessment feedback. Regardless of the individualized blend, it seems reasonable that the first period would require the least amount of time. And depending on the learner’s needs, the second and third periods may be long or short.
Business executives are concerned with a “training’s” RIO. So that’s what this blend offers. Once the treatment is introduced, whether that be F2F seminar experiences, or an e-learning module, or a video, they perform an immediate assessment to see what effect the treatment had. However, I think they are so anxious to measure results, that they are failing to give the learner adequate time to process and reflect on what they have just experienced. In my opinion, a major portion of the post-treatment period ought to be dedicated to this reflection. Connectivism (Seimens, 2004) would be one very effective theory that could be applied here.