Blended Learning has become a trend in both the academic and corporate sector. It creates a holistic experience by combining a variety of learning modes together. Traditional classroom learning is combined with the millennial friendly eLearning and mobile learning modes. This is further enhanced with one to one mentoring and coaching followed by learning by doing (assignments and projects) and learning by listening (session by SMEs and Leaders sharing their stories) approaches. In this entire journey, technology is embraced to promote learning and connect with a larger audience.
When the aim is to broaden the horizon of learning landscapes, demographics must be considered. Demographics would include gender, age groups, geographical/regional location, professions, lingual diversity etc. With this demographic’s diversity, comes the challenge of diversity of learning needs and preferences. The millennials prefer bite-sized, technology driven learning while the Generation X population would prefer traditional classroom learning, for instance. That indicates the importance of blended learning for inclusion.
Due to its feature of combining various methodologies to learn, blended learning has helped in enhancing inclusion. It is no more a one-size-fits-all approach. Rather, learner can choose their preferred mode of learning for interested topics and continue the learning process. As most of the courses can be accessed online just by using a mobile phone (which almost everyone has access to today!), learning is no more restricted to the white collared folks only. The employees in the factories, the support staff and all other blue collared employee can now access courses from their mobile phone in their preferred language.
Blended Learning for Inclusion
Further, lessons are created for multiple proficiency levels and skill gaps. One can opt for multiple number of courses based on their skill gap and preferences. Someone at a leadership level can join the basics course to refresh and update oneself and then move on to the intermediate and advanced level. Therefore, diverse learner demographics get the same opportunities as others starting out in less disadvantaged positions.
Additionally, learning is also made self-paced. Traditional classroom sessions help to learn from peers and an instructor. But often, in a scenario like that, pace mismatch is a threat to learning. eLearning then balances the risks of those challenge and ensures that the learner can clarify concepts and learn at their own pace. This approach to blended learning for inclusion has been one of the major reasons for its popularity today.
Technology has played a huge role in this process. First, leveraging data analytics in blended learning has further helped in the process of increasing inclusion. Analytics report indicate the high performing learners and their weakling counterparts. Accordingly, mentoring and coaching journeys that focus on more one-to-one development can then be arranged for them. Second, use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has reduced biasness from the learning process. No more some learners are screened out of training and development plans while others get more preference being top performers. Moreover, people get the right intervention based on the learning needs.
AI has also helped in providing learning recommendations to learners, motivate the learners to complete their courses, help learners to keep a check on their learning progress and so on. Third, use of Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Responsive Design feature has ensured that learners can revise, refresh, retain at home as well. Learners can now complete projects and assignments from the comfort of their home, get feedback from the instructor, track their learning progress and plan what more needs to be done. These aspects of technology have increased the use of blended learning for inclusion.
To sum, it is quite evident now that when most of the learning material and delivery is made learner-centric, assuming that the learner has full access to technology, as well as the skills to use it properly, it’s easy for the demographic issue to fall behind and the focus remains on learning.