What’s the Right Blend? A New Take on Blended Learning

What does learning look like for you? For your organization? Is it traditional classroom learning or an online self-directed course? Or maybe it’s more on-the-job learning or a mentorship program.

Without being told or reviewing any research, we instinctively know that learning happens in a variety of formats. We also understand that people acquire and retain information differently. And increasingly, we know that erratic work schedules and dynamic job roles demand different learning models – as well as new delivery methods and measurement tools.

Per Brandon Hall Group’s latest Learning Strategy Study, the overwhelming majority of companies that take a blended approach to learning see an improved link between learning and individual performance (95%), and organizational performance (91%).

It’s clear that a blended learning model – however you define it – is the correct approach for any modern workplace. But what is the best ‘blend’? That’s the million-dollar question, and the answer is not simple or straightforward.

At Powers Resource Center, we use blended learning with all our programs. For example, in our Manager Boot Camp, we incorporate virtual group coaching, personalized workshops, webinar-based learning, and an online measurement tool that provides users with ongoing feedback on progress throughout the program. We designed all of these blended learning elements for flexibility and ease of access for learners.

Brandon Hall Group’s Learning-Performance Convergence Model offers some additional insight into blended learning best practices. The model expands the common 70:20:10 learning model (which states that people acquire knowledge in this ratio: 70 % experiential learning, 20% informal learning and 10% formal learning) to consider that the mix of learning types changes from program to program, depending on the desired performance outcome. In addition, the model states that there needs to be a direct connection between learning and performance. The model forces organizations to stop looking at learning as an insulating function, for which the only goal is the completion of learning.

In this sense, learning becomes as much art as science. We agree with this philosophy. There is no one formula, regardless of the 70:20:10 model. Formal learning can – and should be – the center of an effective blended learning strategy. Companies must approach formal learning from a new, blended mindset as a start or a centerpiece, rather than an endpoint. The 70:20:10 framework is just that – a framework. It can be used to guide the way companies approach their learning, but it is by no means a prescription or a precise formula. Per the learning report, “recognizing that people learn in many different ways than a class or course alone can deliver is the first step in providing an effective blended learning environment.  Instead, organizations must use the knowledge that people learn in different ways to build programs that make sense based on the outcomes and objectives.”

It’s clear from our work with clients that blended learning means different things to different organizations. And maybe that’s exactly what blended learning is.

If your organization needs help creating a blended learning model, we’d love to help. Contact us today!

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