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Blended Learning and 70:20:10

This powerful image, called “At School,” first appeared in a series called “France in the Year 2000,” postcards created for the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris. In this prescient series, artists imagined what life would be like in the year 2000. The series is posted to The Public Domain Review, and I first saw it via a link from the innovative folks at Rise Out.

What is so interesting about the series is how insightful some of the concepts were in envisioning how technology would impact on people’s lives in all aspects ranging from daily chores such as housekeeping to agricultural practices and warfare. What remains so interesting today is how these images can help us reflect on where we are today and where we would like to be in terms of how to use technology to improve our lives.

As we see more and more applications of technology-assisted instruction and the principles of blended learning enter the discussion over best educational practices, we realize that 70:20:10 has already made an appearance in classrooms, although it may not always be referred to as such. It’s only fitting to consider how “the blend” will evolve over time.

Early Iterations of Blended Learning in the Workplace

Early on, there were a number of reasons for blending learning, and many of them had to do with introducing an online component into the mix, oftentimes with a goal in mind of reducing the need for travel and therefore reducing costs. In those days we thought about how to best present the content and tagged the following as “valid” reasons for designing and developing online courses:

  1. Content that needed to reach the greatest number of employees.

  2. Courses covered infrequently at remote locations.

  3. Content considered pre-work to other training activities.

  4. Content that changed so frequently that it’s difficult to keep the audience up-to-date.

  5. Content that put the learner in harm’s way (use of simulations covered this).

  6. Content requiring significant drill and practice to master.

  7. Content linked to regulatory compliance or certification.

  8. Content requiring consistent delivery.

While some of these still hold true as reasons for determining the nature of delivery, decisions go beyond how to deliver a course, but how to drive performance on a regular basis.

Blended Learning Becomes 70:20:10

As online learning has become more of the standard mix in the corporate environment, conversations have evolved and become more focused on informal learning and how that can best be applied within the workplace. So, the blend” is now less about combining online with face-to-face but more about the degree of formality in the mix. The 10% (or more, percentages do not have to be exact) of formal learning most likely includes both face-to-face instruction and online learning components.

The larger concern is how to best provide the tools and management over the other 90%. How can organizations best provide the informational resources and expertise to increase employee engagement and improve employee performance? Technology in the form of performance management and individualized learning plans can support the formal part of the equation while online coaching and mentoring tools, personalization features and capabilities around user-generated content all contribute to making more robust informal and social learning.

What is Driving Blended Learning in K-12?

In a lot of classrooms nowadays, “blended” in many cases has come to mean a blended modality within the classroom itself. Teachers are utilizing technology-assisted instruction to better enable them to carry out individualized instruction, assigning online activities to individual students and groups while working one-on-one (or in small groups) with others.

It’s no secret that a great deal of blended learning in K-12, and the attendant technology offerings, can be tracked to Common Core and concerns around meeting the standards. We’re not going to enter that debate here, but to see this blend occur in this manner is interesting and has a lot of implications for the future of learning.

Project-based learning, DIY Learning and the Maker Movement are trends that reflect the growing confidence in experiential learning and how we can strengthen the bond between how you learn in school and how you learn on the job.

Our Own Look to the Future

As we’ve discussed previously, we see all manner of learning moving in the direction of a model much like that of 70:20:10. While the percentages may differ, and where the bulk of learning activity along the continuum may reside within a more formal environment for some and less formal for others remains to be seen.

As online learning enters the K-12 environment and teachers are provided tools to address individual learning styles more efficiently and more effectively, students also become better equipped to manage or direct their own learning.

And as these students mature, and utilize more of the tools at their disposal to support their learning, they enter the workplace with even more skills to address the problem solving required of them.

At least that’s how I see the future state. (Don’t forget to look “back to the future” by checking out the other “Year 2000” images at Public Domain Review!)


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As of January 2024, Rewriting Paradigms is back and I'm writing about today's  issues, those that most test us and our humanity.

Designs2Learn blogs were originally published on a separate site devoted solely to educational issues. 

With the release of the Rewriting Paradigms site, we' ported them over to their new home.

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