Online learning software and learning management systems (LMS) can be great ways to automate trainings and reduce costs. Even as more companies switch to online training platforms, it’s likely that most organizations will continue to offer in-person or hybrid training courses. As useful as these online training platforms can be, they don’t work for everyone or for every training situation.
Whether you’re someone who’s being dragged into the online training world or you regularly combine online learning with in-person instruction, here are some simple strategies for incorporating your web-based learning software into hybrid training courses.
Be specific about your training goals
Yeah, we repeat this one a lot because it’s true.
Training goals will vary by group and by program. Sometimes all you’re after is a quick check of comprehension, so an online quiz will let you do just that. Other times you might want the training program to deliver content and help a group of new recruits bond as a team, both at the same time.
Spend some time up front mapping things out and then figure out where a learning management system can help you and where you’d be better off using another training format. Often, you’re offering a hybrid training precisely because some elements of the course just don’t fit into the online mold. It’s always better to recognize those potential trouble spots up front!
Also think about where this particular training fits into your organization’s plan for training and development. Knowing what kinds of courses your learners have just completed–and where they’re going next–can help you create a logical progression between sessions.
Play to the system’s strengths
Online training software and learning management systems are awesome at automating things. Want to send emails to specific groups? Check. Need to remind another group that their training is due next week? Done.
These kinds of software platforms are also great at letting learners move through information at their own pace and for compiling training resources in one easy-to-access spot. Learners can log in to the system, see what they still need to do, and fit the training into their schedules. Instructional designers can upload training materials and create lists of links or other resources.
In the courses I teach, I often use our LMS to set up the things I want my learners to do ahead of time. I’ll create an activity, full of links to videos and other resources. The learners complete the module at their own pace before we meet as a group. They show up better prepared and the in-person trainings are more productive because we use our time together to do the things the system isn’t as prepared to handle.
Don’t make the system be something it isn’t
When you’re preparing a hybrid training course, it pays to figure out what works best in person.
If your goal is to help people get to know each other better or understand organizational culture–which is often the case in the courses I teach–you might build in more time for ice breakers and trust-building activities.
Another organization I’ve worked with has trainees do pre-training preparation for the extensive role-playing activities that are at the heart of their successful training program. Trainees get lots of detailed feedback on specific elements of the role play, so it’s not something that can easily be put online. But by having trainees prep ahead of time, the trainers spend their time giving expert feedback. This frees up training resources and maximizes productivity for trainers and trainees.
Think outside the system!
That being said, there are a lot of great features built into most online training software platforms that let you do more than you might think with an online training format. Discussion boards and integration with platforms like Vimeo means that you can make your online trainings as interactive as you want them to be.
Get a clear idea of what you want your training to accomplish, and then get creative!
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.