Blending Learning Solutions. From the start,
learning center companies provided a mixture of the infrastructures,
services, and relationships with learning providers necessary to
support blended learning. Its core infrastructure included:
- a global server network that took bandwidth to the local learning
centers and users;
- a content object repository (COR) that made course content perpetually
- a student information system (SIS) functioning in a multi-point,
multilingual mode to integrate all the learning and administrative
- a CRM system for analyzing customer/ learner data, assessing
learner satisfaction, and conducting marketing, sales and service
interactions for potential students;
- continuous publishing systems (CPS) enabling authors to write,
edit, approve, and deliver documents/learning content from their
computers via the Internet to a common database that generated
both hardcopy and electronic materials for serving an online Learning
Management System (LMS); and
- a browser-based LMS linking with the SIS to provide trainers,
lecturers, and students with advanced instructional, learning,
and community-building tools.
Local Learning Centers as Gateways. Accessed
from local learning centers, these infrastructures and services
provided the gateway to learning offerings from accredited learning
providers. Local learning centers forged relationships with internationally-known
educational providers, who offered learning using enterprise infrastructure,
processes, protocols, and relationships with local learning centers.
By 2002, the learning center company had forged a
strategic relationship with a variety of colleges, centers, polytechnics,
and universities in Australia and New Zealand and with the Global
University Alliance, founded by Athabasca University (Canada), Auckland
University of Technology (New Zealand), George Washington University
(USA), Hogeschool Brabant International Business School (Netherlands),
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (Australia), University
of South Australia, University of Glamorgan (UK), University of
Derby (UK), and the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (USA).
The bricks and clicks combination
offered by blended learning centers proved decisive in introducing
distributed learning into the Pan-Asian marketplace. The on-the
ground relationship with learners and local leaders proved
essential in attracting and serving learners. Initially, the blended
learning centers focused on non-degree and associate-level offerings.
Baccalaureate-level and degree programs were added progressively
as the model spread.
Finding Lower-Cost Solutions to Fit the Needs
of the Marketplace. In the course of time, the learning
center model progressively refined its approach to create a highly
scalable model for learning that yielded significant cost savings
in either a blended or virtual learning application. While different
learning providers were utilized, the learning center companys
infrastructures and services were used to reduce the cost of content,
interactivity, space, assessment, and certification. Content cost
was reduced using the content object repository (COR) and continuous
publishing systems (CPS) to create, reuse, update, leverage, and
scale basic course content. Using local mentors and learner-to-learner
interactivity to replace faculty-to-learner engagement for basic
issues reduced the cost of faculty interactivity.
Physical space costs were borne by local learning
centers. Assessment and certification of competency were built into
the learning process in a highly efficient, technology-supported
These cost reductions enabled the learning center
company to compete effectively with other providers in the Pan Asian
Physical space for learning can still be
attractive and necessary in the Knowledge Age. Indeed, most great,
good public places in the twenty-first century will have physical
places where people
can go to fuse work, learning, recreation, contemplation,
and personal development.
Food and drink will be part of
the mix as well.
Deploying a New Model to Markets in Europe and
the Americas. Over time, the learning center company was
able to leverage its infrastructure, best practices, and business
models to introduce the blended learning center model to the U.S.,
Europe, and other developed countries. Forging alliances with a
variety of partners small business development centers, office
incubators, and community associations the learning center
company provides non-credit and degree programs from accredited
institutions at a lower price than is available through traditional
distance learning offerings.
Meanwhile, the blended learning centers in Pan-Asia
have taken a different evolutionary step as well. In many communities,
they have evolved into centers for a wider variety of community-based
functions beyond learning and job training, including small business
research and incubation, cultural, and entertainment centers and
work and learning centers for emerging businesses. This model has
expanded to metropolitan areas that were not served by previous
generations of blended learning centers.
Resources of Interest
2002. The Virtual Colombo Plan.