Blended learning is typically defined as any form of learning which combines both in-person/on-site and online elements. Some examples are:
- Blended Mobility: 20 participants from different countries register for a blended workshop. They come to know each other first in preparatory online meetings, and then each travel to a single venue for immersive interactive experiences. Once home, they meet again online after this in-person workshop for exchanges on how they apply their learning in their respective places.
- Blended Community of Practice (CoP): a group or network of practitioners who meet regularly online and in-person, often according to an agreed schedule, sharing knowledge, problems, solutions, information and news about a specific issue that they care about. In doing so, they extend group learning through ongoing reciprocal interactions that generate tangible outputs (e.g. innovative tools, methods, products, improved processes). This collective activity increases the potential to widen perspectives, change behavior and mindsets on an individual and collective level, and thereby generate shifts within systems.
- Blended Course or Learning Journey: following a course or learning pathway over time that moves through different levels or themes in learning, with some elements online and some element in-person. For example: site visits in different countries, pooling insights from across countries (e.g. consortial benchmarking in the COMETS project on energy transition), or a course that is taught partially online and partially in person, for example over a series of long weekends at relevant venues.
Blended learning is important for supporting education around socio-ecological transition because:
- It improves accessibility to education by a) reducing the cost as not all learning is in person; b) allowing ‘anytime learning’; c) removing the need for the learner to find a trainer / venue who is relatively close at hand;
- It saves carbon emissions from people travelling to an on-site event;
- It facilitates a longer term approach to capacity building, which provides participants with more opportunities to put the learning into practice in their own context;
- It allows learning and support to take place in real time e.g. you can reach out to others when you need support with an active issue;
- It facilitates informal learning through conversation, meet-ups, chats where a learning goal has not been pre-defined;
- It can support and enhance transformative learning where shifts in perspective, attitude, understanding or insight can happen at any time, through any interaction in an unplanned way.
This increasingly widely understood concept of blended learning is the focus used within this framework, although a new and broader concept of blended learning (Transformative Ecologies of Learning) is also explored in the BLAST Project Overview Wikipage.