LAS partnered with the BBC, one of the world's leading broadcasters, to transform the way their trainers approach learning design.
For a number of years, the BBC Academy has been attempting to move to a more blended approach to learning. Increasingly, in order to focus on supporting performance at the point of need, increase access to learning and reduce costs; blends have become even more important
The broadcaster has 45 Academy trainers who are first and foremost subject matter experts, so whilst they understood the concept of blended learning, they previously had had little opportunity to put it into practice and there was some nervousness about what blended learning might mean. It was important for them to understand that their skills are needed in a blended world and the way they’ll support their learners will become more varied and interesting. The goal was to drive change within their own portfolios, whilst also persuading stakeholders to think differently about learning.
The overall objective of the blended skills development programme was to empower trainers to come up with ideas for blended approaches to their training, improve interaction with Learning Designers and drive the transformation of learning across the business.
For‘Becoming Blended’ the medium also needed to be the message. The idea was to design a blend to help the Academy trainers both learn about, and experience, blended learning first hand. The BBC Academy partnered with LAS, who, as well as building the online elements of the programme, acted as subject matter experts, training the trainers in the LAS ‘Next Generation Blended Learning’ approach. The blend was designed in such a way that learners could choose which elements they wanted to engage with and work at their own pace. They were given time from their schedules to engage with the blend.
The core element of the programme was weekly virtual classroom sessions which used interactive tools to encourage participation. The blend also included a rich range of learning experiences such as green screen videos, animations, interactions, assignments, curated content and a social group; all accessed from a responsive microsite, which was used to release content each week. The richness of the mix enabled the experiential learning we were looking to achieve.
The blend was divided into three ‘seasons’, the first of which was led by LAS:
Season 1 (6 weeks) - Learning the LAS ‘Next Generation blended’ approach. The first six weeks of the programme focused on ensuring trainers understood how to choose the right format for content as well as the theory behind designing brain-friendly learning.
Season 2 (8 weeks) - Getting to grips with the tools. Continued weekly virtual classrooms focusing on tools and techniques. Led by the BBC Academy's in-house Learning Design team, these sessions were supplemented with face-to-face surgeries for more hands-on support.
Season 3 (8 weeks) - Sharing best practice. Participant-generated content offering feedback on projects they’ve been working on.
All seasons attracted consistently high audience numbers with 40+ participants each and every week without fail. This was supplemented with a really active community on the internal social media platform which evolved from the Academy driving the conversation, to the conversation happening naturally between trainers, learning designers and other teams.
For the trainers, their journey through the programme has demystified blended learning and they are full of enthusiasm and ideas. The language has changed. They are fired up by the opportunities that blended learning presents to them. They are learning new skills and are embracing new ways of working. Becoming Blended has given them a safe space to learn, develop, share successes and pitfalls. It has both inspired and motivated them to make a significant cultural step change.
The project won the Gold award for Best Use of Blended Learning (public and non-profit sector) at the Learning Technologies Awards 2019.
"The impact of Becoming Blended has far exceeded our expectations and the BBC Academy is now actively embracing blended learning. Before Becoming Blended, whilst there were some good examples, we now have trainers right across the Academy thinking differently about their content"
Head of Learning Design, BBC Academy
“Becoming Blended has created a marked change in mindset within the Academy. The programme itself very cleverly trod the fine balance between avoiding teaching staff to suck eggs whilst acknowledging that learning has changed and supporting them with how they adapt their skills for the future. The impact has been incredible, it is fantastic to see and hear the conversations happening within the teams and the stories being shared. It is equally really encouraging to see the trainers giving something new a go. We now have a team of staff who can work with us in leading the change in learning culture right across the organisation”.
Director, BBC Academy.