As we emerge from the pandemic, we have all heard the expression the ‘new normal’. For Learning and Development (L&D), the new normal impacts how to deliver instructor-led training programs. Organizations have learned that there is no longer a ‘one size fits all’ solution. While some individuals are comfortable with reentering the classroom, others may be hesitant for many reasons, including health and wellness. This dynamic has created a need for a hybrid training environment for instructor-led training courses.
Hybrid training is when some of your audience is attending ‘in person’ and some are attending ‘virtually’. The thought of this approach can be daunting for L&D organizations, but certainly not impossible. There are many factors to take into consideration with this approach. For instance, it is important for facilitators to know where people are working from. Some people work virtually from home, in coffee shops, or in a shared space with others. It is especially helpful for a facilitator to know if there is background noise or if participants cannot use a camera. Participants need to ensure they have a place where they can focus.
Also, the facilitator needs to engage equally and understand that they cannot always read the room as easily as when they deliver the training virtually. They must build trust, ensure the training is inclusive, and that people joining virtually have an equally good experience as those in the classroom.
GP Strategies is helping many organizations adapt to this approach. Below are five tips to keep in mind when exploring a hybrid training approach.
1. Have an onsite support person.
The onsite support person will help set up seating configurations and A/V equipment. They will also help distribute handouts, collect the roster, and serve as a point of contact.
2. Test, test, test.
Prior to the learning session day, it is important that the facilitator and onsite support person align on expectations and setup, as well as test to make sure the desired outcome is accomplished.
3. Determine audio configurations.
As part of the preparation and testing, you will want to determine the best audio configuration so that the learners and facilitator are able to communicate effectively. For larger groups, some find it best to use Voice Over IP (VOIP) which allows the site to use computer speakers to amplify the sound. A smaller setting might find it best to use dial-in with the phone on speaker.
4. Be mindful of activities.
If there are small group or independent exercises or activities, it is important to think through the logistics. How will the facilitator assign the learners to groups? Will the onsite support person provide the instructions? How will the facilitator know everyone is ready to proceed? How will the facilitator be alerted to questions from the participants?
5. Keeping the audience engaged.
The facilitator may not have access to typical body language or cues that help in monitoring for audience engagement. The facilitator will want to leverage strategies such as open-ended questions and pulse checks periodically to monitor for engagement. The facilitator will also want to keep their energy high as they are overcoming the challenge of being remote.