In reality, blended learning has been in existence for decades but as a term in common usage in education and recognised as a legitimate approach, it has become fashionable only during the 21st Century. Essentially, mixing and matching a range of approaches and media to learning and teaching intentions is at the heart of blended learning though, within UK Higher Education, the term has often been used to describe the percentage of time divided between face to face (f2f) and online learning.
Student perceptions of blended learning vary considerably and there is resistance to courses advertised as f2f if the resultant blend makes it appear to be online. Careful consideration of time spent on different approaches and media used can lead to a rich blend that enhances learning.
As a Trustee, on behalf of ALT, I recently attended the London launch of ‘More than Blended Learning’, the brain child of Clive Shepherd, a workplace learning and development specialist, with a particular interest in the application of media and technology. Primarily aimed at the commercial and business sectors, Clive claims it to be, ‘a refreshingly different but simple new approach to the design of learning solutions.’
Their web site http://morethanblended.com/ brings together a portfolio of resources to facilitate personal exploration of the ‘More Than’ approach including a free taster course. The quality of their video material is high, the treatment of the subject novel, making a compelling argument for well structured, blended learning that combines a range of media including the printed word and opportunities for social interaction and application of knowledge. They extol the virtues of an approach that includes the elements of: Preparation, Input, Application and Follow-up further expanded upon by their juke box like model.
Is there anything new here? How relevant are the training approaches used in industry for our learners today? Does the ‘More Than’ model offer new insights that may enhance our understanding of the nature and role of blended learning and the impact of digital media on learners and teachers?
Well, everyone I met at the launch seemed to work outside of mainstream education and whilst their everyday goals, aspirations and working contexts may have been very different, they had a desire to provide the most effective learning opportunities for their staff that were relevant for the 21st Century and perhaps those of us who work in schools, colleges and universities could benefit from at least taking a look at what ‘More than Blended Learning’ has to offer, and its free!
Author: Malcolm Ryan, Association for Learning Technology Trustee, email@example.com
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