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Clive Shepherd


The More Than Blended Learning


Design for learning -

what's in a name?

'A rose by any other name would smell

so sweet' is the line from Romeo and

Juliet, implying that the name you put to

something is much less important than

the characteristics of that thing. While

this is certainly true of roses, it may not

apply so well to people. Although Juliet

certainly felt that it did not matter that

Romeo's family name was Montague, it

certainly played a big part in his ultimate

fate. What we call people can influence

how they - and those around them -


While cynics may say that the shifts in

nomenclature from 'training' to 'learning'

to 'talent management' to 'performance

consulting' make no real difference to

the realities of what people do on the

ground, I'm not so sure.

Let's take the case of those responsible

for responding to a requirement for

learning or performance support - those

who design the solution, rather than

those who deliver it. What do we call

these people? Does it make any

difference? We'll explore the most

common options one by one.

A long-standing favourite is

instructional designer, particularly if

you are from the US or work in elearning. This title is a reasonable

contender as long as instruction is what

you are designing, whether that's elearning, in a classroom or on-the-job.

However, so much of the design work

that's required is not instructional in

nature, for example:

• If the experience you are designing

is simply expositional - videos,

podcasts, books, presentations, etc.

• If the experience is one of guided

discovery - scenarios, simulations,


• If the experience is explorational -

performance support, social

learning, etc.

Exposition, guided discovery and

exploration are very different strategies

to instruction. Perhaps one of the

reasons why such a large proportion of

e-learning ignores these strategies is

because so many of those who work on

e-learning projects are called

instructional designers.


Clive Shepherd


The More Than Blended Learning


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