Blended Learning Solutions for Optimal Results
May 30, 2012 Teaching Methodology 2994 Views
Achieving optimal results with your blended learning programme depends on it being both effective at teaching your selected audience as well as being cost effective. When web-based learning was first introduced the uptake was enormous but experience has shown that making learning material accessible online to a wider pool of participants was not sufficient for all types of training. Blended learning programmes involve a carefully selected mixture of delivery methods such as multimedia e-learning tools and technologies with instructor-led components that enhance the process.
The ultimate aim of blended learning is to provide the most appropriate and effective study style for the usually adult learner involved by providing a range of learning tools and experiences. When developing a blended study course the importance of evaluating materials and practices that have already been used in learner training cannot be underestimated as these can be built on and improved with other delivery methods and technologies. Blended learning also takes into account that each of us are individuals and have different approaches to learning so making concepts 'stick' in the minds of the learners requires a variety of approaches.
The science and art of study in adults called Andragogy, originated by Malcolm Knowles, distinguished adult learning from the way in which children learn and was based on some important assumptions. It is assumed that:
(1) as adults mature their learning is more self-directed
(2) that their life experiences are richer
(3) that they are self-motivated and eager to learn
(4) that they prefer learning to be relevant, purposeful and applicable and
(5) that a problem-centred approach rather than a content-centred approach has greater appeal. Adults are also more motivated to learn if they understand why they are learning a particular subject.
Learning environments that are most beneficial to adult learners are those that are experientially-based and constructivist. Environments that are experientially-based expose learners to a series of exercises or scenarios that support active learning. Active study takes place when learners are given the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge they need to enhance. Constructivist learning environments favour learning over teaching and is based on the premise that humans generate knowledge and meaning from an interaction between their experiences and the new information that they are processing. Blended learning programmes must therefore allow studies to take place in authentic, real-world contexts that involve learner collaboration in addition to social interaction to have optimal impact.