The Other Blended Learning
By Ellen Smilanich and Diann Wilson
As a member of the crack book-review team at Training, I spend quite a bit of time with each book prior to deadline, because I want to get a true feel for what the authors are trying to convey. I have a tremendous amount of respect for writers, particularly those who work within the business genre, which is crowded but seems to have so few outstanding works.
And so I was already on my way to liking this book when I noticed that its acquiring editor is none other than Mr. Martin Delahoussaye, my first editor at Training and more recently a transplant to San Francisco working his magic for Pfeiffer. Mesdames Smilanich and Wilson are fine thinkers and writers, but you know you have a winner when Sir Martin is involved. So there.
The concept of blended learning is all over the training landscape, but what does it really mean? An easy definition is that when you use more than one learning method, such as case study projects and computer-aided training, you have blended learning. That's technically true, but it doesn't tell the whole story.
To the authors, blended learning "is the use of the most effective training solutions, applied in a coordinated manner to achieve learning objectives that will attain the desired business goals." Of late, traditional classroom meetings have been taking some hits, criticized as outdated and inappropriate. Well, maybe not.
In this book, the postmodern or "other" blended learning is defined as being centered on the classroom and combined with one or more additional methods. The classroom is the hub but not necessarily the sole focus.
The important thing to remember about The Other Blended Learning is that it is a complete template for creating a full-featured, blended-learning project. It's all practice and no theory. It's perhaps the easiest how-to book I have ever picked up on any topic. And the chapter on coaching is the finest overview on the subject you can find today. —J.B.