Technology now enables learners to do things they never dreamed possible — like take a course online, at home, on the beach, or anywhere at all. But there’s no substitute for learners being able to interact with their peers and an experienced, expert instructor. Hybrid training, in which in-class and online learners join the same class, combines the best of both worlds. The key advantage is live access to an expert instructor.
Hybrid events enable learners to take advantage of the convenience of online courses and still attend live, instructor led courses, as both in-class and online attendees participate in the same course at the same time. Throughout these courses, all attendees participate in the same instructor-led hands-on exercises — in real time — and achieve the same objectives regardless of their locations. Hybrid events are convenient for online participants: eliminating the cost of traveling, reducing time spent out of the office and allowing executives to train their employees with content that is consistent across the board.
A successful hybrid event depends mostly on the expertise of one person: the instructor. Instructors must have the knowledge, skills, experience and technical expertise to effectively transfer knowledge and skills to both in-class and online attendees at the same time and during the same course. They have to learn proven practices for hybrid events and adapt their teaching styles, as well as master the technology-enabled extension of the classroom, in order to ensure the best results for all learners.
Instructors can learn from the following five proven practices when delivering a successful hybrid training event.
1) PARTICIPATE IN AN INTERACTIVE “TRAIN-THE-TRAINER” PROGRAM.
The best instructors undergo an intensive training process to ensure that the instructor, the content and the technology are all in alignment. The goal of a hybrid-focused training program is to teach instructor show to effectively transfer knowledge and skills to all learners, how to make online attendees feel included via technology, and how to ensure that online participants receive the same attention as in-class attendees.
Train-the-trainer programs allow instructors who are experts in their fields to become experts at every single nuance of a hybrid training event. Instructors must learn to master virtual delivery tools, seamlessly manage the technology, and apply effective, hybrid-focused teaching methods. Instructors who have completed these intensive programs provide the highest rate of knowledge transfer and learner retention. Effective train-the-trainer programs for hybrid events teach instructors key techniques such as how to:
>>explain virtual environments to inclass participants;
>>unite online and in-class participants as a single team;
>>introduce and manage hands-on exercises and workshops; and
>>adapt explanations to work in online and in-class environments.
Although it is optimal for instructors to train in the physical classroom, instructors can also effectively train as a hybrid instructor in the virtual environment within a virtual classroom.
For example, one innovative strategy is to allow instructor trainees to play the role of participant during training. First, the instructor trainee remotely accesses his or her virtual, hands-on exercise classroom. When it is time to practice navigating the
virtual classroom, the train-the trainer facilitator can click on a link in the main
classroom to enter each instructor trainee’s personal hands-on exercise room to provide personalized coaching. Instructors log into their hands-on exercise rooms twice — once as the instructor (host role) and once more as a participant (participant role). This allows them to practice using all the features of the virtual classroom, including admitting learners into the virtual classroom and assigning microphone rights. Once an instructor trainee has completed the train-the-trainer program, he or she is prepared to take on the challenges posed by multiple technologies and attendees from many locations.
2) ORIENT ONLINE LEARNERS BEFORE CLASS BEGINS.
The first day of class is the most important. The instructor’s focus before class begins is to confirm audio, visual and remote-in access, to orient participants with how to access resources and how to ask questions during instruction or during an exercise. This validation process eases the fears of even the most skeptical novice. Instructors introduce themselves and the various components of the virtual classroom, making sure that attendees feel comfortable with all the learning technologies and that they are comfortable and ready to learn, especially those
who are participating online. Because hybrid training events are relatively new, instructors must assume that online attendees have never taken a live, online course before and that they are not familiar with the tools.
3) ENGAGE THE HYBRID CLASS VIA INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY.
At the beginning of the course, the instructor gets participants excited about each day’s exercises and activities by letting them know what they’ll be doing and learning as they explore the subject matter together. Learners have been particularly enthusiastic about the usage of two hybrid event technologies. The first is a streaming classroom video feed, which allows online participants to see the instructor’s facial expressions, body language and gestures. Online attendees can also see their fellow classmates and have reported that this makes them feel like “part of the class.”
The other technology is a tablet-based display system with advanced annotation capabilities. Both online and inclass participants can see real-time highlighting, drawing and writing on the display, and the instructor can respond to participant’s questions by quickly writing or drawing customized examples. These technologies enhance one of the main benefits participants gain from attending a hybrid class: the ability to get answers and advice from the instructor, based on his or her realworld experience.
4) USE MULTIMEDIA TO ACCOMMODATE DIFFERENT LEARNING STYLES.
The best hybrid events are multifaceted to accommodate different learning styles. While some people may prefer a more audio-visual approach, others learn more with a kinesthetic method. The best trainers incorporate multimedia options offering attendees multiple ways to absorb the material. Incorporating a live video feed of the classroom and making all hands-on exercises available to all participants is key. This allows collaboration between peers and instructors via remote-access technology and makes hybrid events extremely interactive, which is key to increased knowledge retention.
A good example of the benefits of peer collaboration occurred during a recent management class. During a discussion about managing offshore development personnel, one participant said he was originally from India and had worked in technical development both there and in the U.S. Everyone in the group was interested in hearing the observations he gained from working in both countries. The conversation developed into an animated discussion via real-time audio and chat pods involving several online and in-class participants who were currently in the same situation. His advice was very valuable to the group and a good example of how hybrid training technology enables collaboration of both in-class and online attendees on a global basis.
5) ENSURE OPTIMAL KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER AND RETENTION FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS.
Throughout the course, instructors check in with attendees frequently, either face-to-face for in-class attendees or via chat pods or VoIP audio for online attendees, to make sure every learner is gaining the skills he or she needs. They also remain aware of what the attendees’ organization is trying to achieve via the training to ensure that each participant gains the skills that align with their organization’s mission. As a result, at the end of the course, all attendees will be able to confidently increase their performance and productivity at work.
THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE
Hybrid training events are the wave of the future. “Classrooms without borders” are becoming more popular every day as organizations need to train their employees uniformly and conveniently, all over the world. As technology continues to bring sweeping changes to the way people learn, one important element will never change… It is the human element—the live instructor—that brings a class to life.
—Magnus Nylund is chief information officer of Learning Tree International (www.learningtree.com), a global provider of I.T. and management classroom training. Martin Shinn is a consulting engineer and course author based in Los Angeles. He is the content developer for Learning Tree’s Trainthe- Trainer Program for courses delivered via Learning Tree AnyWare.
Test Drive a Hybrid Event
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Elearning! and Government Elearning! magazines announced today the Best of Elearning! Awards 2013 honorees. Readers and professionals from both the private and public sector cast 3,862 nominations for the best-in-class solutions across 25 product categories. Winners of each category will be revealed at the Enterprise Learning! Conference & Expo on August 26, 2013, which is co-located with the California HR Conference. The Best of Elearning! Awards program formalizes the “word-of-mouth” referrals practiced in our industry. MORE...
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