Going from classroom to blended learning: Put it all in the blender and hit go!

August 27, 2010 at 11:42 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

So what will you get if you put all your classroom materials in the blender and hit go? A right ol mess!

It’s been a busy week (with non stop rain in Amsterdam and a terrible cold!) one of the things on my plate this week was to review a proposed ‘blended’ learning module. I thought going over my way of ‘blending’ might be an interesting read and as always I’m keen to hear feedback or tips for improving!

How do I blend? I start by looking through the existing materials (classroom lesson plan, PowerPoint slides, handouts, activities etc) – what I normally do is try to first of all get an idea of the key content delivered in the face to face session and the number/types of activities – most importantly what skills or knowledge are the activities building? I then make a skeleton outline of key topics and what activities are associated to them. This gives me a good idea of the levels of interaction, amount of trainer/facilitator involvement, types of debriefs etc.

The next step is to look at the constraints – how much time can you afford to deliver face to face, how much time can participants spend online, what e-learning development tools do you have etc.

I then decide what the purpose of the e-learning portion will be and what the purpose of the face to face session will be – some example scenarios could be

  • E-learning as ‘Discovery’ learning (up front practice) + Classroom to expand/link theory & more practice
  • E-learning for theory/concepts + Classroom for discussion & practice
  • E-learning for theory/concepts & practice + Classroom for review and context

Once I’ve chosen a format and purpose for the e-learning and classroom I then create a ‘story’ or relevant context to wrap around and weave into the e-learning – making sure that the same story and/or context is present in the classroom portion – the blend has to flow seamlessly.

Some common mistakes that people make when blending are:

  • Add lots of what I call ‘functional interactivity’ – buttons to click for the sake of clicking. I would add more instructional interactivity – the best way to do this is by looking at what the participants are doing in the classroom, what skills are they practising and add interactivity into the e-learning that will result in similar outcomes.
  • Forget to add context to the theory – when presenting theory it’s always best to use a scenario to illustrate the concepts so that the learners can quite easily link the concept to practice – you can present the scenario up front then refer back to it. This makes it easier for learners to remember theory as it gives them some sort of structure to group the new info under etc (schemas and that kind of stuff).
  • There isn’t a strong link between each topic and they flow on from each other a bit disjointedly – when the topics are hard to join on their own merit it can help to add an overall story or theme or scenario that will guide the learner from one topic to the next seamlessly – again this will help with memory retention and sense making.

So putting a banana, spinach and mango in a blender can turn out a yummy green smoothie…but I wouldn’t recommend the same for learning 😉



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  1. Great post, Deborah – I’ll be sharing very timely this post with my team and managers. Thanks!

  2. Excellent thanks Marnie. I’m happy to help out with any other info etc you may need – just drop me a line.

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