Blended Learning

classroom-adults.jpgThis is Alia Vaz-Heaven’s first post on CaribHRForum.

Learning is a part of daily living; it may take place unconsciously or in a structured mode. According to Smith and Ragan (1999), learning is a relatively permanent change in a person’s behaviour due to experience based on the duration of change, the locus of the change, and the cause of the change. For learning to occur within individuals in a corporate context, HR Professionals need to use the best learning approach to engender the pervasiveness of knowledge within the organization. One unique approach to learning is blended learning. It is unique because it taps the reservoirs of different learning approaches, such as classroom-only learning and e-learning, in an effort to offer the best approach to learning.

There are several alternative names for blended learning such as integrated learning, balanced learning, hybrid learning, magic-in-a-mix, the perfect solution, and the best of both worlds. It is clear from these alternative names and even the word “blended” that blended learning seeks to put an end to the divide between traditional and online instruction, promising the best of both worlds by offering some of the conveniences of online courses without the complete loss of face-to-face contact.

So, is blending different learning modalities more effective for human resource training and development than the traditional approach to learning? Some companies are using a 50-50 combination of classroom-only and e-learning to form blended learning, while others are trying to move all learning out of the classroom and into the digital world. Either strategy moves away from having a classroom-only approach.

While face-to-face classes allow for interaction, it is done in a constrained synchronous mode where the instructor and a few participants often dominate the opportunity to interact. With its varied delivery options, blended learning takes interaction beyond the classroom and allows those who were limited in the classroom to obtain yet another opportunity to get knowledge from other subject-matter experts, such as supervisors, managers, or assigned mentors.

HR Professionals must remember that varied options do not mean blended. Instead learning becomes truly blended when a learner embraces the availability of these options, such as breaking away from the traditional views of learning (thinking that learning can only happen in a classroom setting) to see learning as a perpetual process, unbounded by the walls of a classroom environment.

When this mental paradigm shift takes places within learners then they will find it easier to solicit knowledge from peers, mentors, or experts, where they see this strategy as a continuing learning process solidifying or expounding on what has been taught in the classroom or through other learning options.