Episode 209: Embracing Blended Learning – Featuring Claudia Quinonez
Over the last year, as more and more learning is moving to an online or virtual setting, we have begun fully embracing the importance of “blended learning” within GLP. Today we are going to talk to GLP Consultant Claudia Quinonez about what we mean by “blended learning” and why we think this should be the future for most learning events.
This show is produced by Global Learning Partners and Greg Tilton JR.
Theme music: ‘Pretty Face’ by Una Walkenhorst.
Read the transcript for the episode below.
Meg (11s): [INTRO MUSIC] Hello, and welcome to Shift the Power: A Learning-Centered Podcast, where we talk about the revolutionary power of a learning-centered approach. Through this podcast, we hope to inspire creative thinking and provide practical tools and techniques to deepen learning through dialogue.
I’m your host Meg Logue. Over the last year, as more and more learning is moving to an online or virtual setting, we’ve begun to fully embrace the importance of a blended approach to learning, within GLP and beyond. Today, we’re going to talk to GLP Consultant Claudia Quinonez about what we mean by blended learning and why we think this should be the future for most learning events. Welcome Claudia. So wonderful to have you here with us today.
Claudia (53s): Thank you, Meg. I’m really excited to be here today and to talk about this very amazing approach and learning. So excited to be here.
Meg (1m 3s): Yeah. Thanks again. So, Claudia, can you describe what we mean by blended learning and how GLP came to embrace this approach to learning events?
Claudia (1m 13s): Most definitely. A blended approach is very different from our traditional ways of learning. Traditionally, all learning would be funneled or delivered through one communication method or one particular way. However, a blended approach offers multiple ways for the learner to access information and deepen their learning. A blended approach combines synchronous and asynchronous learning. And you could see it like a hybrid model between these two. Synchronous learning is a learning event where a group or cohort of learners are interacting and learning at the same time. So it’s happening at the same moment. They’re building off each other’s comments and questions and are listening to the content at the same time, right? It’s happening in the moment.
This might look like a live video call or maybe a webinar. And then we talk about asynchronous is when the learning does not occur at the same place or time for the learners. It basically leveraged resources and materials that facilitate information or content sharing. And it may look like self-reflection or research assignment, reading an article or book, viewing a video, and it could be many other ways. So it’s really the hybrid between synchronous and asynchronous learning. This approach is undoubtedly a perfect way to enhance the learners experience and deepen their learning. And it could be whether you’re teaching a course to students or training employees, the rewards apply to all scenarios of learning.
So let me talk a little bit about the benefits. A few that come to mind are that it definitely offers the learner convenience and flexibility. They will actually have the ability to control the learning pace of the learning content that they’re going to be diving into. It gives the learners a more comprehensive understanding of the course content, you know, what to expect and how they’ll be getting content. It increases the effectiveness and engagement because you incorporate different approaches that meet different learning styles. And we know that that’s super valuable for all different types of learning styles that exist. And it allows the learner to interact with the instructor and other students, as it basically is allowing like a social learning because you have those different ways of engagement.
And so talking a little bit about your question around, how did GLP come to embrace this? So for Global Learning Partners, applying a blended approach has been very natural and in sync with our approach in being a learning-centered organization, right. And that we are learning-centered. So we offer all of our learning events surrounded by the learner. And we believe that that maximizes the learning and offers real change, because we see the learner as knowledgeable and in control of their own learning. And the content is influenced by the learner. So they get to decide ways that they’d like to engage with the content. So offering different learning components of synchronous and asynchronous is a perfect blend.
And over the past year, definitely with everything that has gone over with COVID and worldwide has really pushed our thinking. As we have moved our learning events from in-person to virtual, and we are seeing even more so the benefits of a blended approach in an online environment, which for some of us may be really new. It offers even more options and tools to integrate different learning components along the learning journey. And not only are we reaching more people and competing from broader geographies, but we’re also able to stretch out the learning over time and that leads to stronger learning transfer. So we’ve definitely been pushed in different ways because we’ve moved from in-person to online. However, we’ve noticed how we’ve been able to have the gift and the benefit of being able to maximize those components of synchronous and asynchronous, blended learning. I hope that- that helps answer your question somewhat.
Meg (4m 58s): Oh absolutely. Yes. Thank you so much for really just laying out clearly the different things that make up a blended approach and-and the benefits of it. That’s wonderful. So I wonder, just to really illustrate what this could look like in real life – Can you share some examples of blended learning projects that you’ve worked on recently and maybe describe the role or the purpose of the various components. For example, what holds the content and what is support for the learning? What kind of helps with that learning transfer piece?
Claudia (5m 29s): Definitely. I’d love to paint a picture around that. And so this makes me think about a few months ago, I was teaching with another colleague at Global Learning Partners, our well-known Intentional Design course. This is an online course. It was purely virtual for a period of six weeks. And we incorporated three main learning components. The first one was our learning management system, which many know as LMS. We use this learning management system to allow the asynchronous learning to occur. So we uploaded content weekly, we had videos, we added assignments so learners could go and do some self reflection or work on progress of a design. And we even had engagement opportunities for the learner within the system where they-we would pose reflection questions so they could respond and view other learners comments, and continue to deepen their learning through that system.
And so this is more of a asynchronous, right, as I was saying before, asynchronous, because it’s not happening at the same time. They could go in at the best time that works for them. And then number two, we would have our live video gatherings. And this is our synchronous moments where we would meet weekly, we would reflect, we would engage. We would enhance learning by applying and discussing what was learned about the content that they were doing on their own, through our learning management system. And then number three, I would say another third component would be our mentoring sessions. So this is another opportunity of synchronous learning, where we would set up either as a one-on-one or maybe with a small group, and we would have mentoring sessions to offer direct feedback on the design the learner was developing.
So those are just a few to mention within this example, where we had a mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning, right? And we use different tools that we see as a huge benefit, because we’re able to utilize different tools that maybe we wouldn’t have been able to use in-person. So definitely maximizing our resources.
And another one that comes to mind for me too, to help illustrate better is a most recent learning event that we had that was around online meeting facilitation, and we were teaching and working with the learners on how to best facilitate online meetings, where we use a couple of different components. One was we had actually a printed guide and in this case for this group, a learning management system, wasn’t the best option for them.
So we actually used a printed guide where they could read on their own, the content that we would dive into on a weekly basis. So this was the asynchronous moment for them, right – where they could go at their own time if it was at night or in the morning, however, it worked best for them. And they were able to read the content and have that learning. And then we had also our live gatherings – where it was our synchronous moment – where we would have the live gatherings. This was on a weekly basis for us, where we would have a discussion together and be able to deepen the learning of what they have seen in their printed guide and continue to deepen that learning through dialogue, reflection and engagement through the learners.
And we also had study groups. And the study groups is where they would work with a small group within their learning cohort, where they would actually maybe do assignments, do some reflection, prepare for the next meeting or gathering. And so they were able to continue to develop that. And then lastly, I would say we actually added this component that is somewhat new to Global Learning Partners, but we have been fascinated of how successful it has been and how much we’ve learned – it’s these called nuggets. And they’re these knowledge based micro-learning moments that are sent via text to enhance the learning. And these could be reflection. It could be content sharing.
It could be, you know, having them read an article and it’s sent via text. And this was also an opportunity, asynchronous, where they could actually check the texts at any point in time, respond to it, to the best of their ability and at the moment that best worked for them. And so, as you see here, we’re playing with the synchronous and asynchronous and talking about the benefits – that’s what really allows the learner to choose, you know, how are they going to engage with the synchronous, the asynchronous and-and, and mold it in a way that best works for the learner. So I hope that helps illustrate a little bit of how we’ve applied at Global Learning Partners, this blended approach.
Meg (9m 56s): Absolutely. Thank you, Claudia. Really helps me picture kind of the different components where you have the asynchronous elements, the synchronous elements, and you also have all of these different methods of delivering the learning itself. So you mentioned nuggets, you mentioned a printed guide, the learning management system, and then also opportunities to interact, when you said- like you said, synchronously, but in different groups. So you have sometimes it’s the full group. Sometimes it’s, you know, smaller study group and it just sounds like such a rich learning experience.
Claudia (10m 31s): Yes. I mean, we’ve heard so much great feedback – and also we’ve been able to see and experience ourselves as we’re learners too – those benefits and, you know, those different options really enhances the learning for sure.
Meg (10m 46s): Wonderful! Strong believers in a blended approach now. Never, never going back to just four days in person for the full day.
Claudia (10m 55s): No, no, not at all.
Meg (10m 58s): Well, thank you so much for-for joining us today, Claudia, and for really illustrating what a learning-centered approach can look like and using a blended approach as well. Really appreciate you taking the time.
Claudia (11m 10s): Yeah. Thank you for having me.
Meg (11m 12s): So as always, we’re going to close out our episode with an opportunity for our listeners to really pause and ponder on a blended approach. So to our listeners here is your way for today. How might you use a blended approach in your next learning event?
[OUTRO MUSIC] Thank you for tuning into another episode of Shift the Power: A Learning-Centered Podcast. This podcast is produced by Global Learning Partners and Greg Tilton, with music by Una Walkenhorst. To find out more about Global Learning Partners, whether it be our course offerings, consulting services, free resources or blogs, go to www.globallearningpartners.com. We invite you to sign up for our mailing list, subscribe to our podcast and find us on social media to continue the dialogue. If you enjoy the show, please consider leaving us a review on Apple Podcasts or your preferred podcast player. [ OUTRO MUSIC FADES]