Media Selection and Blended Learning

“In the next 10 years, we’ll see an evolution of instructional media,” says Dr. Jolly Holden of American InterContinental University. And that evolution, in turn, will make an impact on

“In the next 10 years, we’ll see an evolution of instructional media,” says Dr. Jolly Holden of American InterContinental University. And that evolution, in turn, will make an impact on blended learning.

“Our challenge as trainers is to do more with less,” Dr. Holden continues. “You never have enough money. The whole idea of blended learning is not saving money: it’s increasing throughput and not sacrificing instructional quality. You never sacrifice your learning objectives for the media.”

Holden believes that learning objectives are indeed the starting point, and “with blended learning, you must know where you are to get where you want to be. With blended learning, we are looking at many more media choices today — not more difficult choices, but more challenging choices.”

Blended learning (the structured delivery of instruction using multiple media) integrates multiple media with the appropriate instructional strategies. Media choices include:

>> collaborative tools used to facilitate the transfer of learning (wikis, discussion boards); and

>> adaptive tools used for dynamic content/increased interaction blogs).

The power of blended learning is in its elasticity, Dr. Holden contends. As the blend changes, the model becomes “elastic,” allowing the instructional designer to modify the blend to meet specific learning outcomes. The bottom line is that it’s all about improving human performance.

Dr. Holden lists the components of blended learning:

1) Media (vehicles that deliver their contents). “Don’t assume that the learner is glued to the computer. That’s why the traditional classroom is still the most suitable environment for learning.” What is termed “portability,” based on smartphone technology, is extremely convenient, but its content changes rapidly, and it lacks in screen size and resolution. There can be connectivity issues with some of these portable media.

However, it’s been determined that students who use podcasts to review classroom presentations score statistically significantly higher than those who don’t. “We as educators are obligated to deliver the training to learners in the way that is most successful and the way they want it delivered,” says Dr. Holden.

2) Instructional component/strategies. “There is a difference between instructional strategies and cognitive learning strategies,” Dr. Holden contends. “Instructional strategies focus on the delivery of knowledge, while cognitive strategies focus on how the learner processes the knowledge. Computers are wonderful tools to reinforce learning. I have yet to meet a computer that complains about repeating things over and over.”

3) Learning styles. There are 71 different learning styles categorized into 13 major learning styles models. Learning styles are characterized by how information is preferentially perceived (sensory or intuitive), organized (inductive or deductive) and processed (active or reflective) — and modality can be visual, aural or kinesthetic. Primary learning modality is visual, but most common is visual/kinesthetic (seeing/moving). “We store memory based on meaning, not on the modality. The low validity and reliability scores of the instruments used to identify specific learning styles raise serious doubts about their psychometric properties,” says Dr. Holden, an associate professor in the School of Education at American InterContinental University. He made the preceding statements at a recent conference in the Washington, D.C. area.

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