The Future of Employee Training Is Hybrid Learning

The hybrid classroom looks much like a typical classroom, except the last row of the room comprises remote attendees who appear as videoconferencing squares on large monitors. These participants can see, hear, and interact with both the instructor and in-class peers.

Instructor-led training (ILT), e-learning, virtual classroom training, self-paced—there is an abundance of training modalities available to organizations for employee training and development. And while each has its advantages, instructor-led training continues to account for a considerable percentage of training delivered. According to www.td.org, 49% of employee training will be delivered via ILT.

There is good reason that ILT is still a mainstay for learning—time and time again, it has proven to deliver superior learning outcomes that self-paced e-learning and virtual instructor-led (vILT) training just can’t come close to.

There is no doubt that self-paced and vILT have their benefits—they are scalable, flexible, and cost-effective. But what if you could harness the superior learning outcomes ILT delivers with the cost efficiencies of e-learning? Enter hybrid learning…

What Is Hybrid Learning?

Hybrid learning may hold the key to providing it all: successful learning outcomes, convenience, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. It is the only learning modality that harnesses the best features of e-learning and ILT—all combined into one.

The hybrid classroom looks much like a typical classroom, except the last row of the room comprises remote attendees who appear as videoconferencing squares on large monitors. These participants can see, hear, and interact with both the instructor and in-class peers. The instructor can see and hear the remote participants, who can raise their hand, add to in-class discussion, and participate in small group exercises as if they were physically in the classroom.

Advantages of Using Hybrid Learning

Hybrid learning provides a number of advantages to learners, instructors, and training organizations.

  1. Expanded Training Reach: With hybrid learning, it is possible to effectively train geographically dispersed employees by allowing learners to attend instructor-led training events from their location.
  2. Flexible Training Model: Hybrid learning provides a high level of flexibility for employee training. Training organizations can simultaneously train employees in multiple locations by connecting classrooms. Guest speakers or remote instructors can deliver material from virtually anywhere in the world.
  3. Decreased Costs: Hybrid learning can help control training costs by decreasing travel expenses and productivity loss and increase the ability to train more learners in a shorter period of time.
  4. Increased Instructor Utilization: Hybrid learning increases instructor utilization by decreasing travel time and maximizing an instructor’s time at the podium. This prevents burnout and allows for additional skills and content development.
  5. Flexible Scheduling: Utilizing hybrid learning leads to significant flexibility in scheduling employee training. By decreasing the need for travel, it is easier to schedule training around employee schedules and work demands.
  6. Increased Engagement: Unlike traditional vILT or e-learning, where it is easy for remote learners to multitask or zone out during training, the hybrid environment encourages learners to interact with the instructor, as well as other course participants—leading to a more engaging learning experience.
  7. Increased Retention: Because learners in the hybrid environment take part just as though they are physically in the classroom, they are more engaged and more likely to pay attention and retain the course material.
  8. Improved Course Completion: Hybrid learning makes it easier for employees to complete training by decreasing the amount of time they need to spend away from work. The interactive environment also leads to higher learner satisfaction, which encourages course attendance and completion.

How to Take Advantage of Hybrid Learning

Whether an organization uses its own environment and technology or works with a training solutions provider that specializes in managing and delivering hybrid learning, there are several factors to consider for success.

  1. Videoconferencing Application: Look for a videoconferencing solution designed for training with tools that enhance instruction and learning.
  2. Classroom Equipment: Classroom PCs need to be equipped with audio and video equipment for onsite learning to communicate with remote learners. This includes high-quality cameras, microphones, and speakers. Monitors should be placed at the back of the room to allow instructors to see and hear remote participants.
  3. Remote Learner Equipment: Remote learners will need a stable Internet connection, access to a standard Web browser, built-in camera, speakers, and microphone.
  4. Instructor Preparation: While adapting to a hybrid learning environment is relatively easy for instructors, they should spend time before class to become familiar with the virtual environment and specialized teaching and presentation tools. They also should assess class content and presentation materials to ensure it transfers well to both in-class and remote participants.
  5. Remote Participant Preparation: It is important to set expectations with remote learners, informing them that the hybrid class is interactive. Let them know they will be seen and heard, just as though they were physically in the classroom. Remote attendees should be encouraged (or even required) to keep their PC camera on at all times, as this is critical to class engagement and creates accountability.
  6. Technical Support: Proper support of the hybrid learning environment is critical to its success. Choose to work with a training delivery provider that can provide the environment, manage and help with scheduling the event, and provide the proper technical support.
  7. As more Training professionals are challenged to do “more with less” for their employee training, hybrid learning just might be the answer.

Mercy Ehrler has been marketing for corporate learning and development organizations for more than 15 years. As director of Marketing for MicroTek, Ehrler helps shape the company’s internal and external positioning of Next Generation Classroom solutions. Her extensive background in the training industry has provided her with an opportunity to understand the unique needs of training organizations. Through the company blog, articles, ebooks, and other educational content, she helps clients achieve their training goals, manage costs, and, above all, improve the learning experience

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