Singular delivery environment for instruction (i.e. class-room only) versus a blended delivery instructional environment – when to use them?

Singular delivery environment for instruction (i.e. class-room only) versus a blended delivery instructional environment – when to use them?

In today’s technology and availability of multiple delivery media days, we are tempted to use a blended approach (more than one medium of delivery) to deliver training. In corporate training, many a times, singular delivery method is enough to do the job.

Before we zero down on the criteria for selecting a delivery environment, let us know more about the typical singular and blended learning environments. Some examples of instruction delivery environments are:

Examples of Singular Delivery Environment

  • Face-to-Face (FTF) classroom (with or without audiovisual media)
  • Distance Learning
  • Action Learning
  • Independent self study

Examples of Blended (Hybrid) Environment

  • FTF classroom with web-based team projects, or game simulations
  • Satellite video conferences followed by small group discussions at remote sites

The main criteria for deciding between a singular and a blended approach are:

  1. Complexity of the task at hand
  2. Desired Learning outcomes

If the task is fairly simple and the desired outcome is to know or understand (cognitive), a singular learning environment is enough. For example a Logistics Officer in the Armed Forces needs to understand logistics processes probably for that classroom training would suffice.

On the other hand, if the task to be accomplished is complicated and involves multiple domains, a blended approach is recommended. For example, continuing with the Armed Forces setting, let’s take combat capability such as using heavy artillery. I suppose it would start with classroom instruction, move on to game simulations, field operations and back to classroom for some kind of debriefing.

If there is a need to analyze, synthesize and evaluate (Bloom’s Taxonomy), a heavy artillery soldier in a life threatening situation must be able to apply his knowledge to operate the tank, must be able to analyze conditions to determine what action(s) to take, must be able to synthesize operational information with environmental conditions, must be able to evaluate overall situation given full scenario that includes receiving instructions from higher commands, working jointly with other soldiers in immediate environment, working with soldiers in other heavy artillery of same and different make-up i.e. ground (tank) versus air, and/or light artillery, evaluate threat levels, make decisions of when to fire etc (critical incident). And if he is a good leader (affective), he must have higher level knowledge skills (cognitive) and must be able to engage in physical combat (psychomotor), and then I think a blended approach is warranted and justified.

The example may look a little extreme for a corporate training challenge but certainly not incomparable to certain higher level organizational responsibilities.

Thank you for reading my blog. I welcome your comments and opinions.

RK Prasad


  • Indra Perry

    I have to agree with your assessment. I think that since a blended learning approach is so in vogue we forget that some subjects are better the old fashioned way. When I’m in the assessment phase the complexity of the material is usually the main reason I choose a specific method. Of course there are other factors. Thanks for posting your thoughts on this.

  • Thanks, Indra.