I love blended learning. The 702010 concept has helped organisations realise there's much more to learning that putting people through classroom based courses. Even so I'm starting to wonder whether this blended learning is a load of nonsense. Not the concept, more the interpretation of the title. Here's why.....

There have been a few occasions where I've found myself disagreeing with the view of what blended learning actually is. I've heard, and read, many views that says that blended learning is a combination of face to face classroom learning and online. The suggestion there is that for something to be considered as a blended approach, it must have a face to face classroom element to it. If I took this as being correct:

1) A programme which consisted of some elearning followed by a 'classroom' event would be blended learning

2) A programme which consisted of some elearning followed by a live virtual classroom would not be considered blended learning (because there is no physical classroom involved)

I just don't get it. Surely these are both examples of using different methods and blending learning? Is the second example not worthy of being called a blend?

In my opinion, that's just nonsense. There are so many approaches we can take digitally, mixing up both live and on-demand. In virtual classroom spaces, the presence of audio and or video chat, great human interaction, collaboration and shared learning can exist.'Blend' in with that the personal facilitator around to coach, mentor, support and inspire, there's a winning 'online' blend there. Here at DPG we mix it up even further with Virtual learning scenarios like those used in DPG's totally Online Programme in Human Resource Management. There's no 'workshops' in that programme, but trust me, the online experience is like no other I've seen.

Blended learning is a title that programme most certainly is worthy of wearing with pride.

I think in the context of blended learning being a definition that applies to approaches that always MUST contain on and offline, then yep, blended learning is non-sense. I think however, if we were to agree that the term 'blended' as evolved over the years to something broader than it's original sense, that would make perfect sense.

And that makes the world of blended, very exicting.....innovative......leaving us all with a strong appetite to mix up and blend some real funky cocktails of learning.


What do you think? What blends of learning methods do you use in your organisations? Are there some initiatives that you use just online or just offline? I'd love to know what you think.

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  • Great article and considered discussion.  I've always interpreted 'blend' as exactly that.. a blend or combination of learning solutions delivered via various media.  I think the term originally referred to offering both face to face and 'online' learning (as you mentioned) but that has now evolved into all types of media and delivery method. In fact, I remember the days we used the term blended to demomstrate that we weren't removing the traditional face to face learning (which many of our non L&D stakeholders loved!) but including it into everything else. It was a way of easing them over the 'virtual learning' line!

  • Nice article & interesting ensuing discussion! For me it seems that blended learning is exactly that. It is a blend. This title does not stipulate what the blend should be and surely that needs to be for the practitioner to decide based on may situational factors - available technology, level of experience, type of learner, outcomes of learning programme, budget and expectations to name a few. So the blend itself may be a mix of various methods and should rightly be a different mix each time. 

    From my perspective any online element is faily new. Having delivered experiential learning for some years and getting others to embrace their "stretch zones", I now need to step out of my own comfort zone to incorporate an element of online learning. 

    • Hi Jonathan Handcock 

      We've certainly found here at DPG that the lockdowns have increased demand for online learning experiences - of course we've all had our hand forced to reduce the workshop element of blended learning.

      I wonder if the prevalence of online learning will remain after the pandemic. But then people, by their nature, like face to face situations. I guess time will tell.

      • Hi Gary Norris 

        It's an interesting point which you raise. It was the initial lockdown which brought me to doing the online L5 CIPD L&D Dip course with DPG. For the course I'm carrying out a small research project on exactly this question. While not finished yet, the initial findings are suggesting that there will be more online learning post-pandemic. A couple of my survey respondents have reported that the pandemic has forced them to bring forward their target of 50% online learning which had been a 5 year plan. 

        As you say, time will tell!



        • Jonathan Handcock that's an interesting stat! And a stat that will look very good in your assessment. I dare say that researching this matter is big news right. Yes, comparing what is to what was expected will make for great reading.


          • I'll be submitting it to your colleague, the brilliant Jo Edwards, in December. Feel free to ask her for a copy!

            • Excellent!

  • I think that the term blended learning now needs to be a bit braoder, so the "Blend" is all areas of learning, pre reading / videos, online quiz's, virtual classrooms or face to face, the advantages of F2F are undoubtful, sometimes seeing the person enables you to gauge the level of understanding, F2F via web chat, be that Zoom, Skype, Teams or any other digital platform allows you to see when a person needs more help. the pure non visual, chat type enviroments do not always convey this. As others have said, getting the MIX correct is sometimes hard, however the advantage of the digital blending is the ability to have different media to convey the same material. 

  • I agree with you, and I think the current Covid-19 situation highlights this where F2F cannot happen. A good example is my DPG CIPD Level 5 Diploma in L&D, I should be in London tomorrow for my final DBS workshop (F2F) this has now been cancelled and replaced by DPG with the use of the Zoom platform to conduct the workshop. In theory this is still F2F as we can all see each other, but done remotely through a digital platform. This is still combined with the students completing the DBS learning chunk online. So this is two forms of learning delivery which I would class as blended learning.

  • I think the term has been 'watered' down, to people thinking that it is just - classroom and digital lumped together. It is important to remember that there are so many different variables, as you say, it is about getting the 'cocktail mix' right.   I think it is also important to consider the bite-sized element to this, and I am fast learning that you cannot just convert classroom learning into something online or vice versa, and that there is an acknolwegdement that they both have their time and place, but can compliment and support each other when planned and manged in the right ways at the right 'dose'. 

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