In creating blended learning programs for our customers, and in teaching blended learning design to our customers, I’ve begun to think about learning objectives somewhat differently.
The typical approach to thinking about learning objectives relies on a hierarchy of cognitive complexity, such as those provided by Gagne, Bloom, and others. I’ve found that certainly the degree of cognitive complexity is important – if the task requires an understanding of underlying principles, or making decisions in complex situations in the absence of clear guidelines, then critical thinking is essential.
However, I’m also finding there is another dimension that is equally important in selecting the appropriate activities to address learning objectives: something we might call the “activity type.” Simplistically put, if the task the person is being taught to perform is a writing task, then it might be smart to include learning activities involving writing and receiving feedback on them. I mean this sounds pretty simple, but I cannot tell you the number of times we look at existing learning programs and find huge mis-alignment between the type of activity customers are preparing learners for and the type of learning activities they provide.
The basic blended learning activity types I’ve been using recently include Recall, Think, Do, Listen, Speak, and Write. It ain’t Gagne, but this simplistic taxonomy helps me to determine what type of learning activities we need. Coached assignment? Writing sample? Role play (on telephone or in person)? The activity type tells me what type of activity to use.