1. Getting started with blended solutions

Designing blended solutions
The concept of blended learning may seem to you a little ‘old hat’ for 2013. After all, people have been blending learning methods and media for as long as there have been things people need to learn and others willing to teach them. Yet somehow, it is only in the last couple of years that the modern learning and development professional has fully comes to terms with the fact that a single approach – a classroom course, perhaps, or an e-learning module, or a period of on-job instruction – when used on its own, is rarely capable of completely satisfying a learning objective.
Blended learning is right now the strategy of choice for most major employers, whether or not that is how they describe it. The blended learning of 2013 is broad in scope, extending well beyond formal courses to include all sorts of online business communications, from webinars to videos. Increasingly, social and collaborative learning is also incorporated into the mix, as well as performance support materials, and opportunities for accelerated on-job learning.
Employers recognise that learning at work takes place continuously, whether or not it is formally planned. They understand that courses are not enough to change behaviour and increase performance. As a result, they increasingly expect more far-reaching solutions that go well beyond the presentation of information and half-hearted attempts at providing opportunities for practice. They want learning solutions that deliver and that places fresh demands on the designers of those solutions.
In this series of 20 short posts, I explore what I believe to be the most important elements in a systematic approach to the design of effective and efficient blended solutions: analysing the unique characteristics of the situation for which the solution is being designed; selecting the right blend of methods to meet the needs of the situation; and determining the delivery media best suited to those methods. This might sound abstract and theoretical, but stick with me, because the process can be quickly and easily applied in practice.
The blended learning design process
Next up: Introducing the three Ls