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Learning & Development professionals talk a lot about ‘blended’ learning but does anyone outside of the L&D function really have an understanding of what blended learning is all about?

We are all agreed that we learn differently these days. With YouTube, google and twitter we can find out most of what we want to know with a simple search. It’s not all just long Wikipedia articles now either, there are YouTube ‘how-to’ videos on most any topic you can think of, from changing your printer cartridges, fixing a washing machine, to how to smoke cheese. This means that we can have bite-size, just-in-time solutions instantaneously. Why should we expect anything different when learning in the workplace?

Gone are the days when we would happily wait weeks or months to go and sit in a classroom for a full day, or be happy to have a full 50 page instruction manual to wade through to help us understand how to use a new piece of software. The truth is we would leave those training days with a headache, quite often experiencing ‘information overload’ – taking in too much at one time.

Now we have a fuller range of tools at our fingertips to offer a better learning experience. The critical shift, however, is the shift from ‘organisation led’ formal learning to ‘individually led’ based on our own needs.

My menu for blended learning would include:

  • Training at point of need
  • Little and often
  • Flexible/customisable
  • User driven
  • Different methods to suit different learning styles

This shift means that for learning and development teams its less about being the content ‘expert’, the one delivering the classroom training for example, but rather a ‘curator’ of content, and putting that content out there, in a range for different ways. This could include webinars, e-learning, videos, prezi or powerpoint presentations, blogs, podcasts, fact-sheets – the list is endless.

For anyone in an organisation that needs to create or provide training information this means thinking differently when considering what training solutions to provide.

In Learning & Development, we talk about ‘knowledge experts’. These are the people we work with across the business to design new training content, whether it be on Health & Safety, an HR process or Data Protection. With blended learning the knowledge experts can really take ownership of providing solutions to their audience using the array of different mediums described above. If guidance is needed then your L&D team can support you, but as with the ‘traditional’ classroom model there used to be a fairly rigid course overview and content, the blended approach offers much more fluidity.

So what are your L&D teams doing to embrace a blended approach to learning?

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