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Page 40 of 51

Tips Tips Government Elearning! Winter 2015 41 Blended Learning IT IS CRUCIALLY IMPORTANT, IN A BLENDED SOLUTION, TO USE WEB CONFERENCE TOOLS, SOCIAL MEDIA AND COLLABORATION AS EDUCATIONAL TOOLS IN THEIR OWN RIGHT. BY MATHILDE BOURDAT Does a blended training require a specifc evaluation system? To answer this question, we will take into account all the dimen- sions of the training, particular- ly its contextual dimension. ASSESS CONCEPTION AND CONTENT Studies on training efective- ness put the emphasis on qua- lity and relevance of content. To evaluate the quality of the design (regardless of modality), we will consider, in reference to the work of D. Merril (in (in "First Principles of Instruction, Educational Technology Re- search & Development"), the following main points: >> Content has to be suited to the training objectives. >> Te participants' represen- tations concerning the key elements of content must be expressed and taken into account. >> Adoption of content must actively commit participants. To do so, it is necessary to facilitate many interactions, between the participants and with the trainer. >> During the training, the learner has to experiment the efectiveness of the content to solve problems which make sense for him or her. It is important to keep these criteria in mind when you design the "distance" compo- nent of the training. How does an online module leave space for the expression of initial representations? How will the learner be able to compare its performances with those of its peers and obtain feedback from the trainer? How are the suggested problems relevant to him or her? Built on the designer's re- presentations, an e-learning module or a video do not ne- cessarily generate exchanges or controversy. Hence, the crucial importance, in a blended solu- tion, of using Web conference tools, social media and collabo- rative tools as educational tools in their own right. Around courses — whether they are face to face or digital — it is crucial to create a true lear- ning environment (mostly when face-to-face interactions are limited). Tat is to say, collabo- rative working experiences fo- cusing on problems to be solved, opportunities for each learner to contribute but also to share with the trainer. Tis specifc environ- ment creates the vital ecosystem for the learning process. It is important to note the needed time for the trainer to monitor the group and each par- ticipant — and also the needed time for each learner to attend the distance learning element and to share with other learners. EVALUATE CONTEXT IN A BLENDED SYSTEM Training is not a "product" you can "ingest" whatever the envi- ronment. Its efectiveness can only be understood in an organi- zational and managerial context. Tis is particularly true for blended solutions that associate diferent training modalities. Te "distance" part involves diferent actors, particularly the management. It has a determi- ning infuence on the quality of the participant's learning environment. During the diagnostic phase preceding the solution's design, it is necessary to check if the ma- nager is able to (and wants to): >> provide time, >> provide material (access to computer, smartphone, ta- blet…), and/or >> take into account the time spent for training (inclu- ding exchanges with peers) that do not take place in training rooms. We can deduce a three-tiered evaluation process including the context and inputs (see il- lustration). Te contextual environment includes access to distance trai- ning methods but also mana- gerial support (or tutoring sup- port), the allotted time and the organization's learning culture. Te learning environment integrated into the blended portion covers frequent inte- ractions between trainers and participants, and also between participants and participants. It includes a forum, possibility for everyone to post contribu- tions and to get feedback from peers and/or from the trainer, wikis and other sources. Evaluation of the design focuses on each part of the training architecture and the coherence of the whole. —Te author works for Ce- gos. More information at the website Content and Context Evaluate Blended Training for

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