In 2019, if you had polled businesses on whether they would use hybrid training, you would have received a chorus of noes. Three years later, in 2022, learning and development departments are singing a different tune.
A recent report uncovered that almost half of businesses (44%) intend to rely on hybrid training consistently from now on. Almost the same percentage (42%) plan to upgrade or purchase learning technology as a result of the pandemic (Brandon Hall Group, “The Hybrid Learning Revolution | Webinar”).
These findings suggest that there is a gap between where companies are and where they want to be with virtual employee engagement. The transition from in-person, Instructor Led Training (ILT) to virtual ILT (vILT) is not simple, and hybrid training adds a full range of unique challenges. However, the benefit of employee engagement tools has proven to be holding strong.
Here are 5 recommendations to help your business meet and exceed the challenges.
1. Think Outside the Room
Technology tools can help learning and development teams enhance experiences with capabilities such as repositories for shared digital files, digital white boards and collaboration software tools. These features make many elements of teaching easier than they would be in an exclusively physical setting. Hybrid is exciting because it can open up participation to employees from anywhere in the world. Additionally, it is also exciting because of these shared tools and communications, which can further drive productivity and engagement. There’s a reason that “The Hybrid Learning Revolution” report showed intent toward sustained usage and investment in hybrid training and learning — it’s important for effective employee engagement in physical and virtual classrooms alike. It is important to consider what hybrid training can add, not only what it can replace.
2. Facilitate Digital Tools with Dedicated Session Coordinators
Hybrid training courses benefit from a session coordinator who can help with the digital execution of the session; this is particularly true when technology is new to users and instructors.
The need to dive into administrative tasks related to technology can divert instructors from the purpose of hybrid training. Even the best instructors will need to take extra time away from facilitating so that they can turn up the volume, or help Elsa with granting her web browser access to her microphone. This role can be appointed informally, provided that the tools chosen are intuitive and nontechnical to use. Instructors can choose participants to help out if that is appropriate. The hybrid learning experience will run as seamlessly as an in-person session, while also delivering on added features of the hybrid training environment.
3. Educate Instructors on Digital Tools That Support Collaboration
Every topic is different, but Learning & Development teams should look at cloud tools that support many different types of collaboration, increasing productivity dramatically. Everything from collaborative word processing to virtual whiteboards and real-time communication and collaboration tools can lower the divide between in-room and virtual participants. Every teaching style is unique, and the technology is capable of supporting and even enhancing virtual learning. Instructors might be unaware of cloud tools that would be ideal for any class modality, so be sure to discuss the options available through your business’ tech stack.
4. Extra Resources for Hybrid Training
This piece of advice is more for the sanity of your Learning & Development department than your learners. Many L&D departments are accustomed to organizing ILT sessions through a motley of tools. These might be capable of supporting a hybrid mode, but at the very least the process and structure of administrative tools and processes will need to be shaped around hybrid capabilities. Take a deep dive with your IT department and develop a new blueprint. A solid, experienced technology partner can help guide L&D and IT through this discussion.
5. Hybrid-Native Communications Technology
Currently about one in every three businesses plan on implementing new communications hardware to support hybrid upskilling. But, we believe this number will continue to grow as more businesses face hybrid training and learning head-on. There are certain facets to hybrid communication that traditionally tend to discourage collaboration. The lack of eye contact, the lack of spatial awareness, seeing yourself on camera — these are critical differences that, without the right technology, make communications a bit more challenging and prone to “Zoom Fatigue.” There are communications technologies out there that address these difficulties, like X2O Media’s OneRoom. These comprehensive solutions can be more costly to implement, but they are an investment in the best quality hybrid training experience possible, making an appreciable difference in the quality of every session.