A Different Case for Blended Learning


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Many organizations are moving toward blended learning to be more cost effective. That's understandable, but a focus on cost savings alone misses thew bigger opportunity to make learning more effective. Contemporary learning research can give some clues on how to get there. It's up to us to seize the opportunity.

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A Different Case for Blended Learning

  1. 1. A DIFFERENT CASE FOR BLENDED LEARNING Sean P. Kennedy Senior Strategic Relationship Manager Harvard Business Publishing
  2. 2. BLENDED LEARNING ADOPTION IS INCREASINGIn a survey by the Masie Center, 50% of organizationsreported reductions in face-to-face training. 51%reported increases in e-learning and virtualclassroom/webinars.Cost reduction is a primary driver Instructor fees Travel costs Opportunity costs
  3. 3. EXCLUSIVE FOCUS ON COST SAVINGS IS A MISSED OPPORTUNITYRe-design of learning initiatives represents anopportunity to increase their effectiveness  Support development of complex skills over time  Connect learning to work  Drive behavior changePositioning learning as strategic investment Exclusive focus on cost reinforces perception of learning as “overhead” Increasing the top line on cost/benefit creates greater organizational impact
  4. 4. LEARNING DOESN’T HAPPEN IN ONE SHOT Dynamic Skill Theory “When analyzed in terms of levels of constructed skill, students’ performances show dynamic changes, with lots of increases and drops. …The patterns also demonstrate that building of general knowledge (as opposed to learning specific ‘‘facts’’) is slow and hard.”Fischer, K. W. (2008). Dynamic cycles of cognitive and brain development: Measuring growth in mind, brain, and education. In A. M.Battro, K. W. Fischer & P. Léna (Eds.), The educated brain (pp. 127-150). Cambridge U.K.: Cambridge University Press.
  5. 5. PERFORMANCE LAGS POTENTIAL Dynamic Skill Theory “There is no single level of competence in any domain. Instead, in the absence of task intervention or scaffolding by others, individuals show great variation in skill levels in their everyday functioning. Optimal levels are attained primarily in those infrequent circumstances when environmental conditions provide strong support for complex performance.”Fischer, K. W., Yan, Z., & Stewart, J. (2003). Adult cognitive development: Dynamics in the developmental web. In J. Valsiner & K.Connolly (Eds.), Handbook of developmental psychology. Pp. 491-516. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  6. 6. HOPE IS NOT A TRANSFER STRATEGYThe “Learning Event” is fundamentally flawed Assumes conceptual mastery is possible without Learning Event repeated application Does not account for multiple skill levels Does not address conditions of support BehaviorLack of structures to drive behavior change Change Learners face obstacles on return to the office Path to apply learning is often unclear No normative environment for desired behaviors Hope
  7. 7. TRANSITION FROM EVENT TO PROCESSSupport learning processes over time Create multiple cycles of action and reflection Integrate complementary perspectives and elaborate on concepts Application Reinforce learning and consolidate complex skills Content ReflectionCombine delivery methods to maximizeeffectiveness Application Make delivery decisions at the component level Focus facilitation on discussion and interaction Content Utilize technology to reach learners in multiple ways at multiple points in time Integrate performance support strategies
  8. 8. CONNECT WORK AND LEARNING Structure learning around work  Strategic initiatives  Key business processes  Role transitions Bridge the transfer gap  Goal setting  Application tools  Action learning teams
  9. 9. SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITYThe traditional approach is a “burning platform” Use the demand for cost and time savings as an opening to transform leader developmentPilot new approaches Target pivotal audiences and strategic needs Integrate multiple delivery modes Test new interventions and technologiesRe-position leader development as strategic investment Move beyond cost to impact Align programs to key initiatives Connect to talent strategy Build metrics scorecards
  10. 10. MORE INFORMATION:Sean Kennedyskennedy@harvardbusiness.org10