Browse Tag by classroom
Learning design

Less is more – it really is!

Image by Igor Link from Pixabay

In Seth Godin’s recent blog post ‘the secret of the five top‘, he explores the reasoning behind why banquet tables are set at numbers of 10.  Apparently, this number is for maximum efficiency for serving staff and for table setting.  “Bigger” he says, ” you couldn’t reach and smaller there’s no room.”  Seth points out that although this is efficient for the banquet organiser, it really isn’t conducive for social interaction.  Parties and banquets are all about social interaction yet large tables of ten places barriers in the way of social interaction.

Having attended several wedding and conference banquets in recent years, I understand the issues perfectly.  These large tables have the opposite effect.  You end up talking only to the three or four people near you whereas you feel alienated from those directly opposite (that is if you can actually see them over the ornate table centre display).

The same is true of the classroom (virtual or physical).  Let’s imagine that you have determined that classroom is the best option for at least one element of the learning solution.  It may seem more efficient to cram 12, 24 or more people in the same room.  After all, you can tell 24+ the same stuff as easily as you can tell 8 …. can’t you?  Well, yes, I guess if your classroom is a glorified lecture theater where your learners are passively awaiting the gush of information.

The thing is, we know that’s not effective.  Social interaction in the form if discussions, group activities, small group case studies, tutor facilitation, individual consolidation exercises, assessments and individual feedback is.  Why then, is all this put at risk by organisations insisting that just because there are enough chairs and the room is big enough, they’ll fill it to the rafters.

Remember this…. When we favour quantity over quality there will be consequences.  Can you afford the consequences?

Blended Learning, Learning design, Online learning

Training or Learning?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

In a recent post I asked the question “what really is blended learning?” after hearing many people describe it as being classroom plus eLearning. Well, before we can establish what blended learning really is, there are a few things I’d like to explore in more detail.

1. the difference between training and learning
2. what is good classroom

When asking various people how they would differentiate between training and learning, here are some of the responses they’ve come back with:

Training = formal, push information, very tutor focused, defined event(s), structured, something that’s done to them, interactive, just in case, series of events, step by step,

Learning = more learner-focused, longer term, continuous, ongoing, pull information, self-motivated, just in time, on-demand, supporting, mixture of formal, semi-formal and informal, sharing, experiential

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last 2 years, you would have undoubtedly heard about how we deliver learning programmes needs to move away from formal training events and more towards more of a continuous learning process. This doesn’t mean we will be doing away with the formal training events but more about how we can use them more effectively.

When we talk about formal training events, we tend to think about classroom courses; that is, where two or more people are gathered together for a set period of time to be formally taken through a set topic relevant to their working practices. With even the most effectively designed classroom courses that engage, filled with activities, they can also be very inefficient.

Looking back over the years, great classroom courses have included a rich variety of learning activities or methods. So let’s take a look into the past and remember what we have used for great classroom experiences:

  • lectures
  • tutor-led discussion
  • group discussion
  • demonstrations
  • role plays
  • individual work
  • presentations
  • exercises
  • coaching
  • collaborating
  • case studies
  • problem solving games

A real rich mix of activities there. Hang on a minute? Isn’t that blended learning?

Well, not really. It’s blended training methods.

What it does confirm is that for effective learning our training needs to have an appropriate blend of learning activities. Today the emphasis is increasingly on learning through the conversations we have with each other. Despite classroom delivery being very effective (when designed and facilitated well) it’s often an inefficient choice.

Why? Because there is a limit to how many people we reach at any one time. There are different levels of experience in the room. There’s different speeds at which people learn and more reflection time needed by some. There are hidden costs associated with attending events such as travel and time away from job as well as the possible need to bring in temporary staff to cover.

Organisations have recognised that and are thinking of alternative ways of covering some of the learning traditionally done in the classroom. But is tagging this content on either side of the classroom as eLearning self-study the answer? Maybe – but before we can decide whether it is appropriate I have another question for you.

What really is eLearning?

Blended Learning, Online learning

The blended learning myth: eLearning plus classroom!

Image by Aline Ponce from Pixabay

I recently had a conversation with someone who was interested in designing more engaging eLearning but they weren’t sure where to start when deciding which of the suite of training programmes to sign up for. During the conversation I mentioned that it would also benefit him to consider looking into blended learning which would give him more of an idea how eLearning (as he interpreted e-learning i.e. self study modules) could be considered working as part of a blended solution. At the time he was adamant he wasn’t at all interested in blended learning because he wouldn’t be involved in designing or delivering classroom courses.

I hear a similar response from others on my programmes when asked the question “what do you think blended learning is?” The definitions from my students from a classroom design/delivery background are along the lines of “a mix of eLearning and classroom” mainly describing the eLearning as the ‘pre-course work’ in preparation for classroom events.
I have been running programmes on blended learning for a number of years and although there are more people attending with a less blinkered view, there are still so many under this impression given the plethora of resources out there extolling the virtues of various online options.

This then reminded me of another conversation I had some months back after a presentation I co-delivered on how learning is changing. This person mentioned he had already attended a course on blended learning and as a result, he didn’t think blended learning was appropriate at that time. After a little investigation into why he thought that way, it turned out that this particular company stipulated that a blended learning solution wasn’t a true blended solution unless it included eLearning. Now I only had this person’s side of the story but it didn’t surprise me as the company providing the course was an eLearning provider.

No wonder learning and development professionals are confused and skeptical about considering blended learning as a solution. Until we know what blended learning really is, how can we consider it as an appropriate solution? So if eLearning plus classroom isn’t blended learning, what is….?

I’ll leave that for another day.  In the meantime, what are your thoughts?

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