You’re probably reading this blog because you’re thinking about, or ready to embark on, a new post-school educational journey. Maybe the months of enforced lockdown due to the COVID19 pandemic has rejuvenated your desire to learn more about the world we live in, Or perhaps you need to develop additional skills for your workplace to survive. Either way, thanks for reading.
The coronavirus pandemic has given the whole world a new context and allowed almost everyone to reevaluate how they live, work and play.will not be immune from those changes, in fact, many employers will be placing an emphasis on employees being able to work in an 'agile' way, in turn bringing about the need for all of us to learn new skills.
As Walter S. Young’s old adage goes “Every day is a school day”. With a multitude of different websites, tutors and companies advertising their own learning content as ‘the best’ or ‘most effective’ with the ‘highest success rates’, it can be hard to see through the educational fog to find the right course for you. But don’t give up.
Before you decide who you are going to align your learning loyalties with, you need to decide which type of learning is best for you.
Everyone has their own learning style, or a mix of styles, which takes into account your personality, your family, work or living situation, and what you want to get out of your chosen course.
Depending on who you listen to, there are up to 7 styles (debate ongoing) that we use when learning something new. That said, not surprisingly there are around 71 different models, almost all of them doing it slightly differently, but often all boil down to the same basic theory. We all learn differently, at varying rates and engage with topics differently to achieve the same thing. Just as how we’ve all coped with lockdown in our own way, people absorb information in their own style, so learning has to accommodate that.
We won’t necessarily have a dominant style, but rather we swap and change them depending on circumstances, need, topic, location, etc. They include things like visual (a.k.a. spatial) for those who prefer using picture and images; ‘verbal’ (a.k.a. linguistic) for when you prefer using words, or even ‘social' when you prefer to work in a group setting.
Whether you are looking to start your learning for a personal or professional reason, there are a few different routes you can go down. The main two categories are ‘e-learning’ and the more traditional ‘classroom’ learning. There has also been a surge of so-called ‘blended’ learning techniques, a mix of the first those two formats combined, more popular in recent years and certainly more so since the pandemic hit.
Blended learning is often seen as the ‘best of both worlds’ approach. It’s designed to mix the more traditional classroom environment that people still associate with learning, and by embracing the advances of technology to offer the opportunity to engage and interact with content online. Blended learning offers great flexibility to those opting for that technique. This applies to both trainer and learner. As the participant engages more, the teachers are empowered to see their particular learning technique in action, which offers them greater insight to each participant so they can adapt their learning more dynamically.
In this fast-moving, tech-centric world that we live in, you might just assume that e-learning is the best way to go…but that is not always the case.
This article will hopefully help you to decide which type of learning is going to be best for you, giving an insight into the pros and cons of each of the main types.
Now, before you start getting horrible flashbacks to your high school math classes, adult professional learning environments are a lot different to where you spent your teenage years. There is a more mature and respectful atmosphere, and there are still some major pros to physically attending a course.
In the 21st century, it goes without saying that whatever you’re looking for in life, ‘there’s an app for that!’. The same can be said for education. Following the trend of the rest of the world and embracing the advances in internet access together with the rise of the ubiquitous smart-phone or tablet, online learning courses have become massively popular over the last decade. There are many reasons why they have become a top choice amongst learners as a consequence of this passion for technology.
We term electronic training and development as 'Return and Learn'
So, there we have the pros and cons of both Classroom learning and E-learning. They have their differences, but both types should have the overall learning environment and the developments of their students as a top priority.
There is also a new trend of ‘Blended’ Learning, we touched on it earlier, it takes the best elements from Classroom and E-learning to create a supposed superior and more effective learning technique – we discuss this type of learning in more detail below:
There isn't one! ...for now anyway. For me I think this is not all bad as proportions of learning v experimental to be set by percentages at this stage would seem counterproductive. Albeit at some stage in the future I have no doubt that some sort of magical formula will be established.
In recent times many of us who are invested in training and facilitation have worked relentlessly at devising methods to combine virtual interactions in a way that imparts rich, interactive content coupled with experiential learning. Realising that virtual sessions if run well are often favourable as increasingly employers and participants are pointing out these interaction types are proving to be more advantageous to their needs. An example given is that with increased touchpoints combined with less session duration time contribute positively to the learning cycle and the organisation.....oooh yes and the planet too!
Advantages of virtual learning, when conducted skillfully, are numerous. Pointers:
Despite it still being early on in the COVID journey the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) has conducted limited research towards online learning and blended learning. Suggesting that Blended Learning compared favourably to Online Learning.
The Blended Learning model prior to COVID-19 often presented with a mix of Classroom and Online. The switch since is Virtual and Online. Be careful though as Blended Learning doesn't always mean flexible learning, online learning can mean recorded and often does, virtual however usually means there will be a real person delivering your session.
Interestingly and in view of the 'new normal' this Harvard research: Type Less, Talk Moreconcludes that the the human voice is key to human connection.
Whilst there is nothing new in blended learning, my feelings now are that as teacher’s trainers, facilitators, instructors, coaches or mentors now is the time to ‘up our game’ and quickly!
Exceptions to Blended Learning.
The subject discipline simply cannot avoid classroom or on the job education, cases in point: the medical profession and the construction industry.
Expectations Around the Blended Learning Model:
Since and beyond lockdown, as aforementioned above many of us have been working relentlessly at converting traditional learning to virtual delivery in a way that is meaningful, engaging and impactful. It is my feeling is that our work is far from over. There is a strict need to continually strive towards testing new and creative methods to tempt, engage and empower learners.
Examples to Achieve Worthy Blended Learning are Likely to Encompass:
It has been my opinion for some time that elements of workplace education would benefit from remote interactions. Then came the spring of 2020 which saw trainers, assessors and facilitators have their worlds turned upside down. The stark realisation of how significant changes would need to be executed to take learning forward was realised. Typically though trainers and facilitators in my circle, swiftly turned this negative into a positive and invested copious amounts of time, monies and testing into their own learning and development. How to best to convert their classroom training to effective virtual delivery was/is our mission. A journey that continues.....Who said it was going to be easy!
We have examined three main styles of learning: 1) Classroom. 2) E-learning. 3) Blended Learning. In the face of social distancing as yet there is little in the way of evidence as to how outcomes are going to pan out yet. Keep an eye on this space!
How, without warning, and almost overnight there has been a necessity for the world of learning and development to change practices to meet the needs of our learners.
Hopeful that this article might go somewhere to assist you with your decision to select the right learning journey.
Shameless plug! Our Catalyst Programm has been developed to deliver virtually, extremely versatile and fits perfectly to our ethos of Return and Learn: