Blended learning can be an advantageous and effective method of education when both formal and informal modes of learning are employed to strengthen the course concepts. Formal learning is when a learner is solely focused on the information being provided, concentrating on comprehension of the material administered in an explicit and informative way. While formal learning engages the adult learner to absorb and study the known processes or content, informal learning perpetuates understanding and innovative thinking. When used in conjunction with one another, formal and informal learning lend to growth of individuals, allowing them to receive skills and information and subsequently apply concepts to their own efforts and ideas. Executed properly, blended learning can be a progressive means of delivering education, providing a platform where adult learners can design and individualize their own curriculum.
Addressing blended learning as a combination of formal and informal education allows the process to develop and evolve with new technology and research. Traditional face-to-face learning can be supplemented with hands-on activities, field tests, on-job instruction, webinars, podcasts, or engagement with social media tools. Employing a variety of modalities for instruction lends itself to different types of learners, enforces participant accountability, and offers review opportunities. Additionally, many elements of education are available 24/7 and can accommodate different knowledge levels.
For example, AIA CES has offered on-site, face-to-face workshops for Providers to present material about best practices in continuing education. Following the workshops, we posted comments to our blog to encourage interaction among participants and help with learning retention. The incorporation of online communication tools with direct education techniques will provide a forum for peers to share and discuss content from the course.
While blended learning can be challenging to those intimidated by technology and time-consuming to manage, embracing blended learning in continuing education programs can encourage adult learners to commit to lifelong learning. Accessibility to learning often prevents adults from participating in and seeking out emerging industry topics and technology, yet blended learning programs are an effective way to design engaging and convenient education.