Four individuals sit at a conference table looking at papers and a computer. Six individuals are on-screen in a videoconference meeting.
ATD Blog

Find Your Place in Hybrid Training

Friday, April 29, 2022

Now that hybrid workplaces are the new normal for the foreseeable future, have you wondered what to do differently to facilitate effective hybrid learning? With the pandemic as the catalyst, the talent and development landscape has evolved immensely, and recently, hybrid learning has taken center stage.

The term hybrid implies the combination of two different elements. For example, you’ve likely heard of hybrid cars or hybrid systems. In the learning field, however, hybrid training combines virtual learners and in-room participants together. Some confuse that with blending asynchronous and synchronous components, which is actually blended learning. Still others find hybrid confusing because it’s overused in a variety of contexts. At its core, though, this type of learning mixes live online learners with live on-location learners in real time. That is why I refer to it as live mixed learning.

When I facilitate live mixed learning either in-room or virtual, I usually work in tandem with a co-facilitator. More often, I am typically leading on-site and my co-facilitator attends virtually. The screens projecting on-camera images of virtual learners are at the front of our rooms. And being mindful of camera awareness, I want to avoid projecting my back to them. I have found myself asking the question: Where do I stand?

Flip the room
In traditional in-person classes, facilitators stand in front of a room with learners facing them. For mixed learning, start by thinking about the room set-up and invert it. The front is now the back and the back is now the front. (Note: The room’s arrangement depends on where your screens are located and what technology your company has in-house.)

How you arrange the tables and chairs can influence how participants interact within that space. It’s also essential for virtual participants to see in-room participants so they feel like they’re there. Likewise, it’s also just as important for in-room participants to see their virtual colleagues. This is what builds presence.

I seat on-site participants at either a V-shape table or U-shape that faces the screens where virtual participants are projected. That way, they can all see and interact with each other. From there, I can determine where I stand and move is optimal to all participants. That helps me build connection and deliver the best possible learning experience for all, regardless of their location.

Pick up a copy of Next Level Virtual Training: Advance Your Facilitation (ATD Press) in the ATD Bookstore (West B Lobby). And stop by to meet me during my Author Meet and Greet on Monday, May 16 from 9:15–9:45am in the ATD Store during ATD22.

About the Author

Diana L. Howles, MA, is an award-winning speaker, global virtual facilitator, and master trainer who brings 25 years of experience in the talent development industry. A virtual training expert, Howles has designed and facilitated live online and blended learning programs for clients since 2000. As a world-class online facilitator, she has trained organizations on a variety of professional business skills in more than a dozen countries including Fortune 100 and 500 companies, government agencies, and educational institutions. Howles is CEO and co-founder of Howles Associates, LLC, a multimedia company that specializes in live online learning, and provides consulting, coaching, courses, and critiques to help professionals improve their effectiveness with virtual training programs, virtual meetings, and virtual presentations.

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