Converting to a Distance Learning Format
Scenario: A training manager has been frustrated with the quality of communication among trainees in his face-to-face training sessions and wants to try something new. With his supervisor’s permission, the trainer plans to convert all current training modules to a blended learning format, which would provide trainees and trainers the opportunity to interact with each other and learn the material in both a face-to-face and online environment. In addition, he is considering putting all of his training materials on a server so that the trainees have access to resources and assignments at all times.
In the scenario, the training manager wants to convert face-to-face training session into blended learning, which consist of both face-to-face and online instruction. The need for blended learning was considered by the training manager due to his frustration with the quality of communication. Blended learning could improve the quality of communication because it requires the students to become active and interactive learners (Watson, 2008, p.5). Blended learning is a shift form lecture to student centered instruction, which will increase the interaction of the student with the instructor, other students, and the content.
As with any course, face-to-face, online, or blended; a greater emphasis should be placed on the planning phase. Blended learning should have equivalent learning outcomes to that of the face-to-face and online learning. Based on the Equivalency Theory that the more equivalent the learning experience, the more equivalent the outcomes of the learning experience (Theory and Distance Learning, n.d), the same planning used for the face-to-face instruction should be used for the planning of the blended learning experience, i.e. identifying audience learning outcomes, objectives, goals, and constraints; and creating lesson plans and activities.
However, the training manager would have to consider what portion of the face-to-face learning should be added online. What may work face-to-face may not work online. The training manager have to take into account the differences between the two platforms (Kelly, 2012, para. 5). Activities and applications are the heart of an online course; so a determination has to be made between what works best online than in person (Facilitating online learning, n.d.). Activities should provide ample opportunities for online learners to explore on their own (Planning and designing online courses, n.d.). In regards to the scenario, the training manager can use the online format strictly for activities and application, and use the face-to-face portion for the actual lesson plans, lectures, and/or assessments.
With this self-autonomy from online activities, the trainer will then becomes a facilitator for the online learning. The facilitator is not teaching in this student-centered platform, but rather providing guidance and encouraging the students to engage in the online experience, i.e. online communications like discussion boards. Facilitators should show learners that they care about their success (Facilitating online learning, n.d.), which may lead to students being more likely to engage in the online experience. The facilitator can also help the students build class community by encouraging interaction with their peers through discussions or group activities. Research has shown that there is increased satisfaction toward online learning when there is a student perception of community (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, and Zvacek, 2012, p. 72).
So in regards to the scenario, blended learning can prove to be effective towards the training manager’s goal of increasing communications and interactivity amongst the trainees. The training manager would have ensure that he/she use the proper training method for the for the correct format.
Kelly, R. (2012). Blended learning course design mistakes to avoidRetrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/instructional-design/blended-learning-course-design- mistakes-to-avoid/
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Facilitating online learning [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Planning and designing online courses. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Theory and distance learning. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.
Watson, J. (2008). Blending learning: the convergence of online and face-to-face education. North American Council for Online Learning.