I walked with three colleagues in Milan. We had one day in Milan before the Hofstede Insights conference in which I had to discuss a number of myths about blended learning. If you only have one day in Milan, you obviously want to see the cathedral. I was afraid that we had the wrong exit from the metro, not the exit where “duomo” was written. However, we came out of the metro and Bam! there was the cathedral of Milan. Really super impressive. The cathedral is so big that every exit from the metro leads to it, you can’t avoid it … It’s not every day that I get an invitation to do a session about blended learning abroad. Hence, when I received this invitation for Milan I therefore wanted to add a day of tourism. And it worked! I can definitely recommend Milan. The cathedral, but also castello Sforzesco is really special.
Getting started with debunking
The next day the real work with the Hofstede Insights consultants group started at 10.00. The group does not have much blended learning experience yet. They advise on intercultural communication a very international group, working in many different countries so there is a lot of potential to work blended.
My rationale for the session was as follows: I had heard that many of them were still hesitant about working online and blended. That is why I wanted to unearth myths and misconceptions. Furthermore, I had sent out a message asking for real client questions so that they could work on their own cases. I started the session with the blended learning Bingo to find out the expertise in the group (always more than the group thinks!), then the presentation and discussion about the myths. Then they group worked in subgroups to create a blended design for their own chosen customer request, which they had to pitch to the client. This allowed them to practice immediately with presenting a blended design. Finally there was room to discuss tools and technology.
Maybe it is not so much myths, as hindering convictions and ideas. I started to shake some ideas and convinced at least a few people (I hope!). The session certainly made people enthusiastic about experimenting with blended learning. A myth that has definitely been shaken is “you need face-to-face for emotional connection”. We talked about online dating online and falling in love online. If this is possible: why should you not be able to involve people at an emotional level online as a trainer?
The idea that online learning is individual and boring was also turned upside down. Many saw online as optimal for transferring information before this session (myth 1). Learning in your own time is definitely an advantage, but this can also be social and interactive. A personal approach online helps with this. Another new (useful) insight to design blended interventions was that it gives you the tools to better support and space the learning process. Do not overload them with an intercultural dose for three days, but start work together over a period of two months. It supports spaced repetition help the process of applying what you have learned. I am glad that I have opted for this focus on conceptions and ideas about blended learning, combined with the practical exercise. The tools and the experimentation phase will come after this.