As popular as online training has become, the reality is that many organizations still rely on hybrid trainings. Basically, this is a fancy way of saying that a lot of trainings include both online and in-person elements. Here are some easy steps to make sure your hybrid trainings are effective and maybe even fun!
Start at the End
As with any training, figuring out where you want your participants to end up will help you lay out a series of effective steps to get them there. Sometimes called backward design, this process helps trainers understand the big-picture goals and the smaller steps that it will take to accomplish those results. When you have a clear idea about what trainees should be able to do by the end of the course, you can lay out clear steps to help them accomplish those goals.
Break it Down
Once you’ve figured out where you want your learners to go, think about the different kinds of activities you can include to help get them there. When I’m at this stage of course preparation, I like to think about what my intermediate goals are for the trainees in my courses.
For example, in trainings I’ve created on workplace Spanish, our end goal might be the ability to have a brief work conversation in Spanish with a colleague. Examples of intermediate goals–the kinds of things they’ll need to know to accomplish that end goal–would be recognizing simple phrases such as “¿Cómo estás?” and remembering the vocabulary they’ll need to respond appropriately.
Choose Your Tools
One of the really fun things about creating hybrid trainings is that you have the best of both worlds: you get the fun of interacting with trainees in person while also being able to incorporate all kinds of really cool learning technologies. With so many options, choosing the right tool can be hard. This is where backward design comes in handy once again, though, because if you’re clear about where you’re headed, you can easily determine which tools will be most helpful in achieving those goals.
If I’m working on a workplace Spanish course, I’m going to take advantage of the fact that hybrid trainings offer lots of opportunities for trainee interactions. We’ll use lots of role playing and scenario activities, with a few games thrown in to keep things interesting. But I’ll certainly also take advantage of our LMS or other training software to store vocabulary lists and other useful info and incorporate online quizzes, videos, and discussion boards so that trainees can continue practicing outside of the time we meet as a group.
One of the hardest things about training is understanding where your learners are going to stumble. Because trainers are–duh!–usually experts in whatever topic they’re leading a training on, it’s sometimes hard to remember what it feels like to be a beginner. Over time, you’ll develop a sense of where people are going to have trouble, but before then it’s helpful to break down course material into smaller chunks so that you don’t overwhelm trainees.
Again, the concept of backward design is helpful with this process. If I’m creating a workplace Spanish course, I’m not going to expect my trainees to read novels or speak fluently at the end of a few weeks, as much as they might love that! Instead of overwhelming them with nitty-gritty details about grammar or vocabulary they won’t use or remember, I keep it at the level of phrases and vocabulary that they can and will remember. By keeping it simple, the course will help them gain the confidence they need to actually use the skills they learn in the course and maybe even keep going.
Keep It Interesting
Choosing good activities for the kind of training you’re conducting will keep things interesting for you and your trainees. Often, certain tools lend themselves better to a certain kind of training, and the trick is to choose a format that maximizes time for you and your trainees. For example, going over vocabulary lists during an in-person training is not only boring, it’s a waste of time because it’s something that trainees can easily do before they meet in person. An interactive role play, though, would be harder (though not impossible!) to create online, so I’d choose those kinds of activities to take advantage of a hybrid training environment.
Whenever possible, choose examples and scenarios that are relevant to your trainees and their lives. Whether it’s situations from their day-to-day work or examples from pop culture, understanding where your trainees are coming from helps you as a trainer, letting you create a positive group dynamic and better activities for learners.
Telling People Things Isn’t the Same as Teaching
It would be so, so awesome for everyone if you could just explain things once and expect trainees to get it.
Sadly, that’s just not how humans learn. Clear explanations are helpful, of course, but you also need to give people opportunities to practice what they’ve learned. Again, the cool thing about hybrid trainings is that you can create in-person activities to practice but you can also take advantage of online tools to give people other ways to practice–and to show what they’ve learned.
Research shows that giving multiple low-stakes “quizzes” or other assessments actually helps people recall information, and it also reduces anxiety about any higher-stakes assessments your training might involve.
Taken together, these tips can help you create effective, engaging trainings that are fun for trainers and employees alike. Please share any other tips you might have in the comments!
I'm endlessly fascinated by how people learn, and I'm happiest when I'm in the process of learning something new myself.
When I'm not working on marketing for Avizr, I can be found teaching Spanish, working with my student teachers, hanging out with my dogs, and exploring the many trails around Bellingham.