The success of any training course is largely based on the behaviour or « position » of the trainer. In the example of blended learning, where technology plays a structural role, this position requires a break and reinvention.
Here at Demos, our approach to blended learning aims to increase the use of technology, especially through our best practices workshops. These workshops give us an opportunity to share our off the shelf trainings with our trainers, who have contributed to their creation. This feedback session gives our training community the feeling of being the voice and face to the e-learning. They also naturally serve as a point of reference, as each trainer can bring their own personal touch to the training. The reference to a homogeneous content is seen as the accomplishment of long term team work.
It is worth recalling how the different sequences in blended learning at Demos are based on the principle of creation and feedback between the level of representation and that of testing, for example:
Step 1: E-learning
Presentation of general knowledge and company based knowledge. This first step unites the common knowledge “What I already know,” and the individual, “What I don’t know yet.”
Step 2: Face to Face training
Situational role plays and evaluation of acquired knowledge. Rework to integrate knowledge acquired during e-learning. Testing and putting to use of what was learned.
Step 3: E-learning
Overall refined understanding of the subject as a whole.
What is important here is the fact of alternating activities, and not the order in which things are alternated.
It’s possible to have a first step as face to face training, second step e-learning and a third step of feedback and role playing activities, or a feedback workshop to share best practices.
What our trainers have understood is that this sort of approach to e-learning allows us to do what we are not able to do with only face to face training. Where the case study raises the concerns from the trainer on proper assimilation of a theory; testing, including role-plays or techniques from the theater, help the trainer focus on helping the learner to play the role of a character, to make an entrance, and to establish the best possible relationship between the level of representation and that of the experience. Learning is here conceived as an alternation between acquiring knowledge and testing it.
The position of the trainer in a blended learning program is thus the decisive role of “connector”.
The role of connector in this case is not the same as a professor looking to make sure that what he or she has just taught has been understood. The connector is there to open the training experience to new discoveries, even question new things. This is, in any case, the concept of the role of a trainer that we share here at Demos.