Mastering Hybrid Learning
In May 2023, the Wall Street Journal reported that the number of companies requiring employees to work full-time in the office declined to 42% from 49% compared to last year and most companies have “settled into a hybrid work strategy.”
This hybrid model of working is driving a virtual model of learning. The “new normal” has instigated a shift in the way organizations conduct training, with virtual learning being an obvious solution. However, as we move toward a post-pandemic world, virtual learning alone falls short; we need hybrid virtual learning. Specifically, we need a strategy that blends virtual instructor-led training (VILT) and self-directed training in a way that makes learning sustainable, engaging, and effective.
However, just because it is the obvious answer it does not mean it is the easy answer. We are well beyond the “throw it in Zoom and see if it sticks” webinar format.
In this article, I discuss seven considerations that organizations must have when implementing a hybrid virtual learning strategy.
The Role of Hybrid Virtual Learning
As employees split their time between homes, remote offices, and central offices, organizations must decide on the types of activity that should take place in each location. And chances are learning will largely occur at home offices or with audiences in “mixed environments” – the only way to ensure everyone’s participation as peer learners is to harness virtual learning (both live virtual and self-paced). Anyone who has ever delivered content to a part in-person, part virtual audience knows that learners need to interact as peers in collaboration and problem-solving, which would be vastly different if only some of the audience members are virtual.
Considerations for Your Hybrid Virtual Learning Strategy
- Redefining Virtual Learning. For decades, virtual learning had not been as valued as the more traditional approaches. Important content, it was thought, would not be taught online. Now, in the hybrid work environment, virtual learning has become a critical component of learning strategies. Therefore, organizations must embrace, not dread, these experiences.
- Understanding what a “hybrid” audience really looks like in your organization. Hybrid virtual learning is perhaps the most challenging learning approach. We need to not only intellectually engage individual learners but also anticipate and accommodate various scenarios! You’ve seen it: three people are logged in independently, another five are sitting together in a room and watching your session projected onto a big screen, and two people are sitting in the same room as you because they wanted a face-to face experience, not to mention the several listening in on their mobile phones while traveling. As organizations continue to define the composition of their workforce, purposeful and thoughtful planning will be key to the creation and delivery of successful hybrid programs.
- Putting together a strong delivery team that understands the nuances of a hybrid environment. To ensure that everyone is engaged and actively learning, you need a strong team. The facilitator is responsible for managing discussions, content, and intellectual engagement. The producer/host is in charge of technology, ensuring each learner’s voice is heard regardless of their mode of participation and anticipating the facilitator’s needs.
- Developing a design that meets the needs of a hybrid audience. Today’s hybrid learning environment is complicated. We aren’t just designing for a particular virtual classroom technology; we need to contemplate where people are, what device they are using, when they learn, etc. and align the program design with the learner intent. To maintain the attention of the learners, intentional instructional design is more important than ever.
- Ensuring equivalent learning experiences. An individual may choose to participate in virtual learning in many ways: on or off camera; in a private or shared space; at home or in a more traditional office setting; as an individual or in a group; online or in person, etc. And all of these combinations may occur IN THE SAME SESSION. The facilitation team, the program design, and the corporate culture must be aligned so that no learners are left behind.
- Fostering an inclusive environment that imparts a sense of belonging. A sense of belonging is crucial for students from diverse backgrounds to feel valued and heard, ultimately leading to better learning outcomes. Organizations must prioritize cultivating an inclusive learning environment by actively addressing and challenging biases, providing culturally responsive teaching strategies, and encouraging open communication. By embracing these key principles, the hybrid learning experience can become a foundation for empowering all learners and fostering a truly inclusive learning community.
- Establishing the value of hybrid virtual learning as part of the overall learning strategy. Organizations should recognize and communicate the immense value of incorporating hybrid virtual learning as a core component of their overall strategy. Hybrid learning offers the flexibility and adaptability that modern employees need, resulting in improved knowledge retention, increased productivity, and enhanced employee wellbeing.
In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, organizations must stay ahead of the curve to remain competitive. Integrating hybrid virtual learning into your strategic plan ensures that your workforce is equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to navigate change and drive innovation. By investing in this novel approach, your organization will be well-positioned to thrive and succeed in an increasingly interconnected and dynamic global market.
For 23 years, InSync Training has been a virtual organization supporting hybrid learning events. Hybrid virtual learning can be an environment that allows employees to thrive and helps businesses to meet their goals. Ready to learn more about how to foster virtual learning in your hybrid workplace? Contact us at https://www.insynctraining.com.