The Ultimate Blended Learning Course Design Pattern

BLENDED Learning PatternIn a recent blog post I introduced the idea of training course patterns to kickstart your LMS. The needs of every department will vary, but that’s the beauty of patterns. Patterns are broad enough to give you ultimate flexibility in your final design.

As I look back on my career of training development, and conversations with so many professionals, there is one pattern that stands above all others. It has 3 basic elements: Pre-event content, training event, and post-event content. It’s a blended learning pattern that can be use for just about any training solution.

Pre-event Content

In order to make the best use of time in a face-to-face classroom setting it helps when the instructor/facilitator can be certain that attendees are prepared. In some cases this content is called prerequisite training and signing up for the live face-to-face event is not possible without proving successful completion.  There are many different reasons for creating pre-event content. Your specific needs will define your solution as anything from short email notifications to delivering a complete online course as a prerequisite.  The key is doing something to prepare your learners to gain the most from the live experience.

Live Classroom Event

There are no surprises here. Live face-to-face events are still necessary and preferred by many learners.  People just don’t like that time to be wasted. So this pattern is perfect for allowing instructors/facilitators to get right to the point during class time. The pre-work takes all of the introduction and level setting out of the classroom and into the hands of the learners before the event. As a designer you need to make sure to make the classroom event and experience that is worth remembering.

Something that designers tend to forget is the importance of logistics. And the details of the event that are not instructional, but heavily impact the overall learning experience.  Details like, making sure the room is clean and smells nice. If your event is all day then, make sure you have great meals, snacks, and drinks available. Also make sure you test and double-test all of your A/V equipment. You don’t want learners sitting around waiting for an IT guy to fix the projector. Remember, it’s an experience that should be as comfortable as home, and as exciting and memorable as Disneyland.

Post-event Content

This is where the magic should happen. If you’ve heard about spaced repetition then this is where it shines. You’ve introduced the content in the pre-event content and solidified it’s importance and usage in the live event and now you need to make it stick.  The time after training events is the most critical for enhancing memory and recall, and we don’t want all of the hard work to go to waste.  Designing small chunks of content, questions, or assessments that get sent out multiple times AFTER the event will encourage recall strengthening the chances of your content moving into long term memory and available for application in the workplace.

Designing a complete learning experience using this pattern is powerful.  You’re tapping into how learning occurs as a process, over time. And that is something that a classroom event alone cannot achieve.  Similarly, the pre-work and the post-work alone are only minimally effective without the hands-on, focused, experiential learning opportunities available in a classroom setting with other learners working through the same learning curve.

If you are already using this pattern, then let me know about it.  I’d love to share your story.