Recently, I reviewed a Webinar on blended learning with Dr. Curt Bonk. During his talk, Dr. Bonk discussed how educational research has found that blended learning is more effective than instructor led training, most likely related to differences in learning time, content, and teaching strategies (Rand Corporation and the Department of Education). Not surprisingly, the way people learn is becoming more blended as the younger generation, millennials, are always “wired” to technology. I see this everyday as I observe my teenage children study by watching videos and using aps as required by their teachers. Yet, this isn’t just occurring in K-12 education, blended learning is also being used in many other contexts as well including medical education.

In fact, over the last few weeks, I have been observing several clients use an anchor approach of hybrid simulation. That is, they begin with a DecisionSim simulation to prepare learners for a live simulation using mannequins, standardized patients, and/or medical device training.

For example, one client has learners complete a DecisionSim simulation first and then conduct the same scenario in the mannequin simulation. This reduces the cognitive load and stress and can thereby improve learner performance during the live simulation. One way to ensure learners get unique learning experiences in this design is to include several branches covering the same learning objectives.

Another client also uses this anchor approach by combining a DecisionSim simulation with a live simulation using medical devices and a mannequin. In the DecisionSim simulation, learners are introduced to their patient who has mobility challenges and needs to be moved safely. While selecting the optimal approach for moving the patient, learners assess and develop their knowledge about which device should be used to move the patient, and best practices for using that device. If learners choose the improper device, then the patient is badly injured. Or, if learners choose to move the patient without the help of any device at all, then they’re the ones that are injured. With this approach, our client was able to show learners first hand, in a safe environment, the dangerous consequences of moving a patient without the proper medical devices. It also enabled learners to identify the gaps they had in their own knowledge. This experience prepared them both mentally and emotionally for the live demonstration on the proper procedure for using the medical device. It not only demonstrated to learners what they needed to learn, but it also gave them the motivation to pay attention to the demonstration and live simulation.

These are just two examples of how you might use the anchor approach to blended eLearning. For other models, see Blended Learning from A to Z: Myths, Models, and Moments of Magic

To learn more about the Rand Corporation and the Department of Education research project see:

Study: Blended Learning Improves Test Scores

Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning