In designing blended learning programs, we believe there are three key factors to think through: levels of competency, the learning timeline, and five key learning practices. The second factor is the learning timeline – what should be taught in the “training event” and what should be learned applying new knowledge and skills on the job?
As we think of it, the instruction phase consists of the training event – the time-limited period devoted to learning new skills. For instance, a one day class, or a 20-minute eLearning module.
The application phase consists of weeks or months where skills are practiced on the job and feedback is obtained in order to apply and reinforce learning.
It’s important not to confuse the one with the other. Often eLearning modules – perfect for instruction – attempt to cover the application phase as well, because the creators believe they will be used as a stand-alone, sole intervention. But having the “post training exercises” built into the eLearning module cannot compare with creating a blended learning program where we ask participants to engage in a series of stretch assignments with feedback from coaches or peers. The take away? Design blended learning activities to fit the timeline. Teach concepts, vocabulary and procedures during the instructional phase, and allow learners to practice them in a safe environment. Apply learning on the job in distinct, separate, application activities.