Hybrid learning is continuously a watchword as corporate learning and development (L&D) teams balance in-person and remote workers— it shows no sign of stopping. We rounded up major industry surveys to give you a clear picture of what hybrid learning is, what L&D professionals think of it, and how the trends in hybrid learning are going to change this year.
Trend #1: Hybrid Learning is Here to Stay
Hybrid learning isn’t a recent invention. In fact, we hosted a webinar on hybrid learning best practices all the way back in 2015!
That said, in 2020, corporations across the globe were forced to suddenly convert their in-person training workshops into remote learning experiences. Then, as workplaces opened up again, some of us returned to the classroom. Others remained in the land of Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Suddenly, hybrid learning became the norm.
What “Hybrid Learning” Means
Hybrid learning is a learning experience that accommodates both in-person and remote learners. Usually, we use it to refer to synchronous learning (as in, everyone is participating at the same time from their various locations). It may also refer to a mix of synchronous and asynchronous training (as in, some parts of the training are delivered in a classroom and others are delivered as self-paced e-learning modules).
Industry surveys show that hybrid learning isn’t going to disappear. For one thing, remote work is here to stay, with a Global Workforce Analysis survey showing that 50% of US-based employees would prefer a 5% pay cut to stay at least partially remote than to be forced back into the office.
Because of that, corporate L&D professionals will need to continue to support remote employees. Hybrid learning is an efficient way to address both in-person and remote learners at once. Cindy Huggett’s State of Virtual Training survey showed that 62% of L&D professionals currently offer or plan to offer hybrid classes. Meanwhile, Ken Blanchard’s 2022 L&D Trends report suggests a hybrid post-pandemic world, predicting that 34% of corporate training will be in-person and instructor-led, 40% will be instructor-led virtual training, and 25% will be self-paced virtual training.
Trend #2: Continued Improvements to Virtual Training
The formula for hybrid learning is in-person plus virtual training. While virtual training has been steadily on the rise for years before 2020, the pandemic forced many corporate learning teams to quickly convert in-person programs for digital delivery. As a result, L&D professionals are unhappy with their virtual programs and plan to improve them.
The Ken Blanchard L&D Trends report shows that not only do 53% of L&D professionals consider their virtual training experiences ineffective, but in fact that number is up year over year.
Cindy Hugget echoes this in her analysis of the State of Virtual Training report. Since 2020, she has seen an increase in the average length of remote training experiences. This year, 29% of all virtual training is over 2 hours long. She suggests this is due to last-minute course conversions. What was once a one-day in-person workshop is now a full-day virtual training event. This leads to increased video-call burnout and decreased learner engagement.
That said, learning and development professionals have strong plans for how to improve their virtual programs. Respondents to the Ken Blanchard report are prioritizing learner engagement, more social interaction, and adding more learning touchpoints over time. In fact, if they had unlimited resources, nearly half of them would follow Cindy Hugget’s lead to convert their full-day workshops into spaced learning journeys. In the year ahead, expect training departments to prioritize content creation tools and a more complex tech stack to facilitate learning journeys.
Trend #3: Training Trainers on Hybrid Learning Tech
By its very nature, hybrid learning requires a classroom that incorporates some form of virtual training technology. That includes meeting software like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, participation tools like Kahoot or PollEverywhere, microlearning distribution apps, elearning modules, and traditional learning management systems.
In both trend surveys, respondents noted that this had increased the burden on the instructors leading the courses. Not only do trainers need to be effective presenters and good at classroom management, but now they also must be literate in hybrid learning tech. Plus, they need to be able to respond, troubleshoot, and adapt when the tech goes haywire.
For that reason, trainers themselves are going to need to focus on upskilling on software that supports hybrid learning. Otherwise, the hybrid learning fails – or they will be replaced with trainers who are more comfortable with the technology.
Trend #4: Blending Remote and In-Person Experiences
In an episode of Talk of the Trade, we spoke with Jennifer Allen and Michael Randazzo from Challenger about remote work. They both reflected on how they value the flexibility to decide which work environment is best on any given workday, but that bringing the team together for a learning experience was extremely powerful in building connections and inspiration.
Respondents to the Ken Blanchard Trends survey echoed this: their learners are overextended, burnt out, and opting out of virtual social hours. In fact, many learners report that they miss the in-person connection with colleagues to talk, exchange ideas, and make connections.
A bad hybrid experience is not limited to remote learners. In Cindy Hugget’s State of Virtual Training, one respondent noted that hybrid training isn’t good for in-person learners, either, as the company didn’t provide a designated conference room. As a result, the learners called in from their desks, where they were prone to interruption and where they may not have felt as comfortable speaking up to participate.
Because of that, L&D professionals will need to get creative on how to equalize and connect remote and in-person learners. Part of this may follow the example of Challenger, which supplements remote training with periodic in-person workshops. Another strategy we’ve seen our customers use is to provide each learner with a kitted “classroom in a box”: a personalized package with physical workbooks, writing utensils, and even company SWAG.
We’ve also seen clients investing in a digital content delivery method like Mimeo Digital that any learner can use on the app of their choice, with or without an internet connection. Whatever the strategy, its goal must be to make sure each learner – no matter their participation method – has the space, time, and supplies they need to succeed in the course.
Trends in Hybrid Learning
As we head into another year of rapid changes in business practices, L&D professionals are tasked yet again to remain nimble and responsive. Hybrid learning enables all learners to plug into the training ecosystem. However, it must be done thoughtfully in order to be effective. We look forward to seeing how our customers take on the challenge of engaging their learners.
Mimeo helps L&D teams deliver print and digital materials to learners, wherever their learner is. Schedule a call to find out how we can support your hybrid learning program.