Blended Learning Research Says We’re Not There Yet

By David Wentworth

You’re doing it wrong. Okay, not all of you, but about 40% of you. Whatever you think blended learning means, it’s very likely your company is doing it wrong, at least according to Brandon Hall Group’s recent research.

It reminds me of the scene in the Blues Brothers when Elwood asks the bartender what kind of music they usually have. “We got both kinds, we got Country and Western.” We ask companies all the time what their blended learning strategy entails, and I can just hear the bartender’s voice: “We got both kinds of learnin’, we got Classroom and eLearnin’.”

In other words, there really isn’t much blending going on. The typical strategy our blended learning research uncovered has a huge focus on classrooms and course modules, with a smattering of asynchronous or file-sharing tools here and there. These strategies fail to consider the 70:20:10 framework. This model says that about 70% of development comes from on-the-job-experience, 20% comes from feedback and examples, and 10% comes from courses and reading.

The model has been a point of discussion for nearly 20 years, yet most organizations are still focused on that 10%, or formal learning.

In our 70:20:10 Learning Framework survey, Brandon Hall Group found that only 20% of companies have formally adopted this model into their learning strategy, while 41% have done so informally. Prior to implementing the model, companies are typically spending 43% of their time with formal learning.

Seems like an awful lot of time, money and effort focused on what experts say is the smallest piece of the puzzle.

The idea behind blended learning research and practices is to have a robust set of tools at your disposal along with the knowledge and skill needed to apply those tools in the appropriate amounts at the appropriate time. Mixing and matching these strategies allows you to tailor the learning initiative to meet both the needs of the learners, and the needs of the content.

Unfortunately, many organizations are saddled with legacy programs, processes and platforms that are geared to deliver course-based elearning and classroom instruction, with no consideration for the multitude of modalities currently available. In today’s business environment, the course cannot exist in a vacuum.

Learners need the ability to not only learn the material, but discuss it with each other, learn from experts, see examples and learn by doing.  The learning strategy must be reengineered to meet the 90% of learning needs that seem to go unserved. Otherwise, you’ll be talking about your learning efforts like Brian Fantana from the movie Anchorman: “10% of the time, it works every time.”

In their daily lives, people’s knowledge and opinions are an amalgamation of things they’ve picked up from a variety of sources. Learning within an organization should be similar. We’ve extolled the benefits of all the various learning modalities that exist: classroom, online, workshops, coaching, collaboration, rich media, etc.

According to the blended learning research, it would be almost counterproductive to deliver a learning initiative without incorporating at least some of these various strategies where appropriate for your organization.

About the Author:

David Wentworth is a senior learning analyst at the Brandon Hall Group, a preeminent research and analyst firm. The company has provided world-class research, data and expertise for more than 20 years in Learning & Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development, Talent Acquisition, and Human Resources.


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