The concept of Blended Learning has changed.  A very few years ago, Wikipedia had the following definition:  “Blended learning is a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path or pace.  While still attending a “brick-and-mortar” school structure, face-to-face classroom methods are combined with computer-mediated activities.”

But, the term has been evolving and last year Wikipedia defined it this way:  “Blended Learning is an approach to education that combines online educational materials and opportunities for interaction online with traditional place-based classroom methods. It requires the physical presence of both teacher and student, with some elements of student control over time, place, path, or pace.  While students still attend “brick-and-mortar” schools with a teacher present, face-to-face classroom practices are combined with computer-mediated activities regarding content and delivery.”

However, the definition is still changing as academics struggle to find the right box:

“  .  .  . Brandon Hall estimates that “about one-third of organizations still think of blended learning as having available classroom learning plus additional modalities.”
 As the learning and development space evolves, however, we now have a more sophisticated understanding of what the term blended learning should mean as we develop our enterprise learning strategies. I’ll again rely on Brandon Hall for backup:

 ‘The analogy I like to use is the Arnold Palmer. It is a drink featuring a mix of lemonade and iced tea. But if you put a glass of iced tea and a glass of lemonade next to each other, it is not an Arnold Palmer. It doesn’t become an Arnold Palmer until you actually blend the lemonade and ice tea. Likewise, if you offer classroom learning and then an eLearning course, it is not blended learning, it is just multi-modal learning.’

 Love that analogy! So, how do we really create the blend, the true hybrid approach to learning that enriches the learner experience with the right mix of traditional and online learning? Add to mix the right blend of experiential, informal, and formal learning (i.e. the 70/20/10 model). Blended learning is a cocktail of all these things and it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. There’s no one prescription for what will work for your organization or your learners. You will likely discover different mixes for different groups even within your organization, depending on role and other factors. One thing is certain though. When you realize the right blend(s), there’s a wealth of benefits to your learners and to your company as a direct result.  ( “Blended Learning” by Samantha Lang, SAP Litmos )”

Two introductory points I want to make.  The concept of a blended approach in both education and training is not new.  It goes back almost to the beginning of the 20th Century where, instead of technology, classrooms provided students with, “The Weekly Reader,” and similar “outside the textbook/lecture day” materials in order to augment the textbook/lecture regimen.  Then came the filmstrip, slide shows, movie projectors, wire and tape recorders etc.  It seems that both education and training have been engaged in some form of blended learning for a very long time.

Today, blended learning makes much of e-Learning as the blended part of the textbook/lecture curriculum.  And, for those who adopt this approach it seems, for the most part, to be working well.  But, for those who still confine the training day to lecture/workbooks, I need to make them aware of the awesome power of multi-sensory e-Learning.

In the best commercially available multi-sensory programs, video, graphics, gaming and audio do most of the teaching.  Experts agree, and the research proves, that active multi-sensory teaching is vastly more effective than passive acquisition of information acquired through tests or lectures.

Effective multi-sensory training programs are also competency-based and real-world in nature.  Trainees learn how to perform “hard” or “soft” skills, and they are taught these skills within the context of relevant job or life situations.  Being able to see how newly acquired skills or knowledge can improve one’s day-to-day life is the best motivation for adult learners.

Driven by the business sector’s need to show return on investment, effective multi-sensory instruction is also measurable.  It has testing elements that assess a student’s incoming skill or knowledge level, and re-evaluates progress upon completion.  Most importantly, those tests can be re-used months after initial training to measure retention, the bottom-line of successful training.

Interactivity is one of the most critical factors for the success of multi-sensory programs.  Almost every expert of learning concurs that doing and experiencing are the key elements in the acquisition of new skills and knowledge.  Well-designed multi-sensory programs require learners to be active participants in their own learning process, instead of being un-involved, listeners receiving information delivered in a passive environment.

At the heart of the success of multi-sensory training programs is “learner control.”  Most high quality programs are designed and used as individualized, one-on-one instruction, with the learner controlling the sequence and path of learning.  In fact, approximately three quarters of organizations using multi-sensory instruction use it this way. 

Programs that embed flexible and non-linear design can accommodate a wide variety of learning styles and ability levels.  Slow learners, for instance, can spend more time reviewing and practicing difficult material, while fast learners are not penalized by boredom or frustration under an externally imposed pace or path.  Optional full word-for-word audio (a requirement in today’s e-Learning environment) allows less fluent readers an equal opportunity to learn while, at the same time, the more fluent readers can disengage the audio function and move forward at their own pace.  Flexible, non-linear programs can also deliver instruction in varying depths so that it can be used for different purposes.

Without question, multi-sensory instruction is the ideal training choice for your blended learning programs.  And, with good reason!  The research points positively to the phenomenal results that can be achieved with knowledgeably designed media instruction.

More on Wednesday  –  –  –

 — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning
March 4,
2019  (Mondays & Wednesdays)


 (This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner,, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)