More than ever, the modern corporate trainer is responsible for in-person and remote learners within the same classroom. In 2020, the corporate world transitioned to almost 100% remote training. Now, learners are returning to in-person classroom experiences, but at lower rates than before. As a facilitator, it is suddenly your responsibility to manage multiple learners who are using multiple technologies all at the same time.
This will require you to add a few new tools to your corporate trainer toolbox. Here at Mimeo, we host hybrid employee training, plus we help our hundreds of training customers manage their learner materials, so we have a few ideas for how to create an experience that allows in-person and remote learners alike to thrive.
Idea 1: Pair “Training Buddies” Ahead of Time
One of the major pitfalls of training in-person and remote learners at the same time is that technology glitches may lead to an uneven experience. For example, your in-person learners get a clear explanation of your company’s sales methodology, but the remote learners can’t hear you because your internet breaks up.
When you assign each learner a “buddy” who is going through the opposite learner experience, they can help each other (and you) overcome this kind of obstacle. Before the classroom experience starts, make sure each remote learner is paired with someone in the classroom. Encourage them to do the pre-work together to start their bond. Then, in the classroom, empower them to solve each other’s problems. In the above example, a remote learner could ping their buddy to let you know about the connectivity issues so that you don’t go through the whole explanation before realising there is a problem.
The other benefit here is an added layer of accountability. When learners have buddies, they will encourage each other to do pre-work and post-work, plus they will have someone to turn to long after the classroom experience has ended.
Idea 2: Use Participation Tools
When all your learners are in the same classroom, it is really easy to handle participation by having people raise their hands or break into small groups. If some of your learners are on a virtual screen, those methods leave remote learners out of the experience.
That is why it is important for every learner to use the same participation tools, no matter whether they are in-person or remote. One classic example is using video conferencing breakout rooms to virtually split learners into different spaces. You can do this within the classroom by assigning tablets or computers to each small group so that they can join the virtual breakout rooms. You may also consider using a participation app, like Kahoot or PollEverywhere, to encourage learners to ask questions or answer quizzes.
Idea 3: Provide Everyone the Same Materials in the Same Formats
Some learners work better from physical materials that they can mark up and refer back to. Others prefer the digital experience. Most like some kind of combination, such as laminated job aids as quick reference and searchable PDFs for complex workbooks.
It would be a mistake to offer print materials to in-person learners and digital materials to remote learners. Instead, make sure your training materials are available to every learner in the same format. That includes shipping workbooks, reference sheets, and even hands-on workshop materials to remote learners’ locations. (For example, here is how Code.Org manages regional classroom materials from a central training location.)
Idea 4: Empower Learners by Acknowledging the Situation
In corporate training, all your learners are adults. That means you can empower them by acknowledging what everyone can see: that you have learners in multiple locations, and that therefore there may be bumps along the way.
By acknowledging this, you are activating some learners to be more empathetic. Your natural problem-solvers may start coming up with ideas that you’ve never considered to make sure everyone is included. Your complainers may even not feel the need to gripe, since you have already validated their feelings. By being honest and open about the situation, you may just find unexpected benefits in a blended classroom experience.
The role of the corporate trainer is certainly getting more complicated as the workforce transitions from remote to in-person and a combination thereof. With these ideas, you can go into the hybrid training experience with more confidence that every learner will get what they need from your course. Keep the brainstorming going with this free, on-demand webinar: Bridging the Gap Between Virtual and Classroom Training! And, watch the video series, The 3 C’s to Keep Your Learning Flexible, to discover 3 guiding principles that helped Mimeo’s VP of Talent, Ann McDonald, stay flexible in reassessing and redesigning our training program.
Mimeo is the leading provider of online, on-demand printing and digital content distribution services. We have been helping training professionals deliver better educational experiences through better course materials for over 20 years. We offer trainers a blended training solution through our Mimeo Print and Mimeo Digital platforms, allowing them to securely distribute printed and digital content to learners anywhere, anytime.