dinsdag 21 februari 2012

Blended e-learning: what’s in a name?

The real World behind the virtual World of distance learning always needs a buzz word. In the early beginning the word “e-learning” was launched. Who invented it? Nobody did! But at a certain moment, every word in the dictionary had to have its “e”-equivalent because the virtual world of the World Wide Web dictated a new way of living. The e-World was born! After e-mail, e-marketing, e-shopping… also learning began being distributed by the web and so the word e-learning was born. Starting from that moment, it was obvious to everybody what e-learning was about: learning by means of the web. Quite soon, for a great majority of companies e-learning became a must, even in companies where learning wasn’t part of the game at that time!

So a lot of companies focused on the “e” and forgot the learning. That’s one of the main topics to discuss when I counsel: training is a must (because the future of training is learning), e-learning isn’t (e-learning is just one of the means to train people).
And the second headline of my consulting activity is that if e-learning is the appropriate way of training, its implementation is a process of Change Management (top-down) and Marketing Strategy (bottom-up).

The word e-learning is even included in the French dictionary. So the entire world knows what the word stands for. Does it? A few months ago, for a European project, we discussed for two hours to define the word e-learning just to decide for adopting the definition of Wikipedia!

After e-learning came “blended learning”. A new buzz word was born! What was really new in this concept was the word itself, because the concept – a blend, a mixture of different ways of learning – is as old as the hills. We have all been educated and trained by means of a blended learning approach. 30 years ago, after my French class I read a few books in French, I watched French television, I spoke with my French friends, I looked up a few words in the dictionary and I even went to France to practise the language… A blended learning project indeed! The web didn’t even exist at that time, let alone the term “blended learning”. So it’s more than logical that blended learning is the appropriate way of learning. It was introduced by man himself, a long time ago! Nowadays we have more resources for our blended learning through the Internet, social networks, communities… and really, I’ve realised a lot of projects where blended learning was the most appropriate way of training and had the biggest ROI.

It’s all about Marketing! As an independent consultant, I try to show training officers, HR Managers and Executive Committees that first of all they need to carry out an in-depth analysis of the training needs, determine the corporate training objectives and work out the learning paths, after which they will reap the advantages that e-learning and blended learning can bring.

Watch out: there’s a new buzz word… You can read more about it in my next post!