Many companies have made the decision to implement a hybrid work environment for their employees over the last year and a half. At first, companies chose this solution as a response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. However, many organizations are now allowing both in-person and remote work for their employees due to its reduced costs, efficiency benefits, and employee approval. Recent research has suggested that employees are more efficient when working from home, while others point to the need for in-person interaction to encourage mental health and collaboration. Hybrid work, in theory, gets at the best of both worlds. The question is, then, how can you leverage the respective benefits of in-person and remote work to improve your learning and development programs? We have some answers to common questions surrounding hybrid learning.
Is hybrid learning the same as blended learning?
Not really. Typically, blended learning programs are those in which all students attend a mix of instructor-led sessions (either virtually or in person) supplemented by eLearning material they complete on their own. Hybrid learning typically focuses on creating solutions in which in-person and virtual learners can attend the same sessions regardless of where they are. Blended learning is a highly effective development strategy, but it isn’t necessarily built for the mid- and post-pandemic world. Hybrid learning was created to accommodate the needs of businesses that have employees in hybrid work environments.
Another common term associated with digital learning is eLearning, which also varies slightly from hybrid learning due to its completely virtual delivery method. So, while certain eLearning may be part of hybrid programs, not all hybrid learning is eLearning.
When is hybrid learning most effective?
Many organizations are turning to hybrid learning because it engages and accommodates all types of learners. While many employees enjoy remote work, there is still a significant percentage of the workforce that performs and learns better in an in-person environment. Hybrid learning is most effective when it is used to get the best out of learners; its agility allows your organization to offer the most effective instruction method for each employee.
Is hybrid learning worth the cost?
One of the main allures of hybrid learning is its cost-effectiveness. We’ve said this time and again, but training programs are only as effective as they are engaging. That is, in order to truly get the most out of any training program, you need to ensure employees are learning in the way that best suits their needs. Hybrid learning programs have a strong return on investment (ROI) because learners are able to choose delivery methods that work best for their needs. Furthermore, due to the partial digital nature of hybrid learning programs, they are easily scalable and can be used in fully remote and in-person settings if needed.
When it comes to implementing a hybrid eLearning program, there are a variety of factors you need to consider. These range from learner needs to business objectives to desired outcomes.
Understanding the needs of your learners is perhaps the most important step in creating an effective eLearning program. Take into consideration how much time your employees have, what they need to learn, and how they learn best. When analyzing employee time and availability, it’s important that you consider learning as an additional task on their to-do list. If your employees are jammed up with work, creating an agile hybrid program may be one of the best ways to use time and money. Furthermore, consider a hybrid microlearning approach to reduce the stress and annoyance of sitting through hours of training modules (microlearning can be effective both in-person and virtually).
Aligning your hybrid eLearning program with business objectives is a necessary part of maximizing ROI. This is where you can get creative with delivery methods and collaborative aspects. Let’s take a look at an example of how hybrid learning can align with business objectives and help your organization be more effective:
‘Organization A’ has been struggling with company-wide collaboration and communication since transitioning to a hybrid work environment in 2020. They want their employees to be more familiar with the technologies they have access to and how they can be used to improve communication. Using a hybrid model, ‘Organization A’ creates a learning model that not only educates employees on the tools at their disposal, but also encourages cross-media collaboration during training. This aligns perfectly with their goal to foster better communication within their teams, and still provides learners with concrete knowledge they can use to be more efficient.
When considering the implementation of a hybrid learning approach, remember that the true benefit comes from its flexibility and agility. Nonetheless, we understand and appreciate the importance of simplicity and clarity, so consider some of these tips when creating and implementing your solution:
- Design curriculum that is flexible and effective in both virtual and in-person settings. It can be tempting to build in-person solutions and then transfer them to virtual platforms, but they will more than likely be less effective. Create the appropriate solution the first time to avoid poor outcomes.
- Create agile in-person classrooms. Ensure that in-person classrooms are equipped with the necessary tools to connect with virtual learners. Most conference rooms should suffice but investing in quality video conferencing hardware is a great way to take your learning programs to the next level.
- Be creative. Hybrid eLearning is complicated and new to most learners, Try to think of creative ways to tailor the program to your learners. This can be done through custom branding, themes, and engagement activities.
As organizations continue to choose hybrid work environments as an effective alternative to traditional in-office work, it’s important that they build learning and development programs that are accessible for all learners. When creating your next employee education program, consider a hybrid eLearning program to increase learner outcomes and ROI.