It’s important to note that Blended Learning does not simply mean combining eLearning and face-to-face training. It means a whole plethora of tools from coaching by line managers to in-house development programs and social networking tools.
Let’s briefly look at Blended Learning’s key elements: face-to-face learning, eLearning and some of the emerging technology-based tools.
Face-to-face training: The classroom and other forms of personal instruction still remain one of the most popular forms of learning in most of the world. In Europe for example, a recent Cegos Group survey found over 90% of trained employees experienced classroom training and surprisingly, it is many of today’s younger, tech-savvy generation who appear to be among the biggest advocates of face-to-face training. When asked what they consider the most important contributing factors to a successful learning experience, respondents in the same survey said the expertise of the instructor or designer of the training (63%) and the appropriateness of the content (58%) were the two most important. TP3’s experience over the last 30 years, and 15,000 learners participating in face-to-face activities annually, supports these findings.
eLearning: eLearning is also one of the most important means of learning today across the world. While perhaps not living up to the hype first time round, when attention tended to focus on the technology of learning delivery rather than meeting the user’s needs, eLearning today offers a very different value proposition and operates in a very different learning environment.
Once defined quite narrowly as computer-based training (CBT) or computer-assisted instruction (CAI), the term “eLearning” is now accepted to be broadly inclusive of all forms of educational technology from online and virtual education to m-learning, digital education collaboration and web-based training. When we refer to eLearning, we include the many types of media that deliver text, audio, images, animation and streaming video, and we include technology applications and processes such as online courseware, audio/video tape, satellite TV, CD-ROM and both local intranet/extranet and web-based learning.
In February 2010, Ambient Insight released a report entitled The Worldwide Market for Self-paced eLearning Products and Services: 2009-2014 Forecast and Analysis. This research looked at the growth of eLearning across the globe, and among the key findings included the prediction that the global market for eLearning is forecast to reach $A46.9 billion by 2014. Critically, the Asia-Pacific region was expected to surpass Western Europe as the largest eLearning market behind North America by this time.
Emerging tools: Emerging learning tools and techniques—mobile learning, gamification, virtual classrooms and virtual worlds, multi-device learning, language learning, online communities and 3D simulated environments to name just a few—are also being rapidly integrated into L&D strategies and Blended Learning programs. Taking mobile learning, for example, we find ten of the top twenty countries in terms of mobile phone usage are in the Asia-Pacific region, with Australia near the forefront with an estimated mobile phone penetration of nearly 75% by 2015.
With gamification, also known as serious-games technology, more and more traditional gaming companies are now developing corporate versions. Chinese game developer Giant Interactive, for example, has collaborated with China’s military to launch sophisticated game-based military training, and other gamification leaders such as Singapore-based Playware Studies Asia are leading the world in the development of enhanced learning through play.
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