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What is ‘blended learning’?

In this section we look at how learning experiences may be accessed by a combination of routes.
Image shows two people, one has 'Simulation' on his back, the other has 'Spaced practice on her back. They are looking at a finger post with fifferent delivery routes.
© Health Education England Creative Commons 4.0 International
Blended learning is a combination of activities selected to ensure learning of a given topic as effective as possible. Teachers and trainers have always blended learning methods to gain the best outcomes, but ‘blended learning’ now refers mainly to a mix of online and classroom learning. Blends of learning activities can support many topics. In healthcare the practice is particularly useful because many tasks require learning of both knowledge and practical skills.
In Hospital Life Support, the underpinning knowledge of protocols can be learned and assessed online. Once this part has been completed, individuals are able to enrol onto the practical training session. The session tutor knows that everyone has attained the required level of knowledge and can run the skills session accordingly. This allows the practical session to be completed in a shorter time and staff spend less time away from their workplace. Blended learning has the added advantage that the content is split into ’chunks’ which allow the learner to achieve it in manageable steps. At a higher level, the longer UK Advanced Life Support training uses a similar blended approach which ensures attendees have attained the required level of knowledge before they attend the practical cardiac arrest scenario elements.
The table below shows a blend of learning routes used to teach the skill of cannulation.
Outcome Delivery Route
Name the main veins of the forearm Online
Identify components of a cannula Online
Insert cannula correctly Classroom
Cannulate patients Bedside (mentored)
Learning that provides an appropriate blend of activities and routes can be particularly helpful to adult learners who need to fit learning in with existing work and life commitments. Online elements can be undertaken at a time and pace that suits them and as result time away from the clinical area is minimised. Learners may be able to post questions online for the tutor and can take the theory assessment when they are ready. A blend of sections also supports learning at a pace to suit individuals.
It should be noted that sections which are undertaken online instead of in a classroom still require a learner’s time, and many organisations offer time in lieu for these. There are many different elements and activities that can be blended together to provide effective learning, although it is important that every part includes activities that engage the learner.

Blended learning and social distancing

Blended learning aims to make the best use of learning time and methods. With our current virus-related restrictions, the selection of optimum blends of activities is perhaps more important than ever before. Although blends are usually thought of as a combination of classroom and online learning, they can also be a blend of activities outside of the classroom. For example, eLearning followed by a videoconference lesson on interpersonal skills, or technology enhanced learning followed later by an online tutorial with a trainer.

Talking Point

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© Health Education England Creative Commons 4.0 International
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