Education Technology Services
The ultimate guide to customising learning experiences for your team
Progressive organisations view learning as an essential need and employees are encouraged to continue enhancing their skills and competencies on a regular basis. Employees on their part usually expect organisations to provide support in various ways. It could be in terms of learning material or financial support, or sometimes both. Given the widespread acceptance of the hybrid working model, learning must be attuned to it so that organisational support is easily accessible from anywhere and is customised to individual needs.
Hybrid learning, as the name implies, incorporates traditional face-to-face classroom learning with online elements such as videos, virtual and augmented reality (VR, AR), online platforms and others.
Customising hybrid learning techniques enables personalisation of the learning process for every member of a team so that they need to access only those resources relevant to their role and professional challenges. Organisations that invest in customised learning programs have higher retention rates, lower training expenses and low compliance risks.
When the virtual component of a hybrid learning program is at the core, the program is likely to be more impactful and long lasting. The right elements can be added to the learning program making it suitable for independent learning, synchronous learning and social learning.
Factors to be considered before finalising a hybrid learning model:
- Is in-person learning a better fit?
The advantages of a traditional classroom setting include face-to-face interactions which help in building a trainer-learner relationship, the ease of demonstrating hands-on examples and the fact that training materials are usually already in place. The disadvantages include the rigidity of fixed timings, the fact that learners may have to stay away from work or even travel, which in turn involves expenses. Further, younger employees prefer to learn through technology-based flexible platforms. An unavoidable feature of in-person training is that the training is only as good as the facilitator, who being human, may not be consistent every time.
- What about virtual learning?
Organisations need to explore the most appropriate options available for virtual learning. The preferred options should be convenient, efficient and cost-effective. The various approaches include pre-recorded webinars, elearning platforms that may require investing in Learning Management Systems (LMS), animated videos that incorporate show and teach methods, and the very advanced AR and VR models. While each option has its pros and cons, the undeniable advantages of virtual learning are that the size of the audience can be scaled up and every employee receives the same quality of learning, wherever he/she may be located.
- How will hybrid learning help?
The online aspect of hybrid learning clearly reduces expenses since there is no need for classrooms and other accompanying overheads, or travel. It allows trainers to focus on other aspects of their role. True, the organisation must make a significant investment in virtual learning programmes in terms of technology, content and facilitators, but in the long-term, it is money well-spent. The time saved is an added bonus.
The consistency of standardised learning material ensures every employee eligible for a particular training receives the same quality of training and that helps in boosting productivity.
- How to strike the right balance between traditional and virtual learning
A successful hybrid learning programme must be created after taking into account factors such as available delivery methods, learner preferences and learning objectives, among others. The availability of tech tools and platforms decides delivery methods to a large part.
Factors to consider before rolling out a hybrid learning strategy
- Assess: The organisation's learning needs and existing content must first be assessed. An analysis of why the training is required, what skill gaps need to be met and whether the training can be imparted by someone inhouse need to be decided. This assessment will also decide the choice of delivery of the training.
The intended learners must be assessed too so that each learner can access only what is required and in a format that is suitable. After all, flexibility is one of the foremost advantages of the hybrid learning model.
- Set priorities: To create content efficiently, the learning team must prioritise what elements of the training modules will be created first. Switching to a hybrid model for the first time is a large undertaking and must be planned well.
- Structure the programme smartly: For the programme to be a success, it must be designed in small digestible parts so that learners do not tire of it and it should include sufficient simulations and relatable storylines.
- Outline clear responsibilities: To ensure budget and scheduling efficiencies, and to minimise conflicts along the way, responsibilities of the client/organisation and the service providers, if any, must be set out clearly.
- Establish a roll-out strategy: A detailed strategy decides the execution plan of the learning programme. Some of the aspects that need to be covered include how the concerned employees will be informed, where will the classroom trainers be accommodated, how will the learning outcome be incorporated in the learner’s role in the organisation, and many more.
- Track the expected ROI: The complete effectiveness of a programme can be measured only after the programme is completed and employees have had a chance to incorporate some of the learnings. However, baseline numbers can be set before the start date and the same numbers can be measured later in the year.
Clearly, the hybrid learning model is making quite an impact in the learning sector and pushing traditional boundaries. It is helping organisations meet employees at their work locations, whether it is in office, at home or any other remote location. It is indeed the future.
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