Are you preparing for a world that combines online learning and elearning events into a new, hybrid model?

Combining Online and Live Learning Events: 3 Strategies

As a Human Resources Professional, you’ve likely discovered a common thread between all of your employees – the desire for ongoing education and training. In hiring, you’ve likely noticed that a propensity for lifelong learning has become an essential selling point on candidates’ resumes, as these individuals are moving throughout a workforce that’s innovating at a faster speed than ever before.

Employees recognize the necessity of evolving to keep up with the times and that continuing education is the key to this ongoing growth. In response, many companies have expanded their ongoing training and professional development offerings to include valuable event experiences. This could mean multi-day conferences, single-day summits, or even short seminars. 

Regardless of the mode of delivery, one thing is certain – these essential continuing education events must be adjusted during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

When in-person learning experiences resume, it will likely be in a hybrid environment. This means that while some of your learners will be in person, some will likely choose to attend virtually!

At Web Courseworks, we develop virtual events for associations – something you can read more about in this guide. While we don’t develop internal employee training tools, we have seen firsthand how challenging it can be for professionals to continue their training in a world where in-person events are drastically reduced. At the same time, we’ve witnessed how the combination of virtual and in-person training can be a valuable tool to overcome this obstacle.

With that in mind, we’re here to share our top three strategies to improve your organization’s ongoing training initiatives during the age of virtual and hybrid learning:

  • Maintain personalization in hybrid training;
  • Devise ways for in-person and virtual learners to interact; and
  • Collect data on your hybrid efforts for future improvement.

Are you ready to learn how to provide valuable continuing education events for in-person and virtual audiences? Let’s dive in.

Maintain personalization in hybrid training

We know that personalizing training is one way to develop a program that genuinely improves your organizational culture. A “one-size-fits-all” approach is no longer sufficient – we’ve found that association members want to be recognized for their individuality and interests with continuing education. This concept holds true for your employees!

If you’ve ever held a conference-style training event for your employees, you may have personalized event offerings. For example, you may have created a multi-track experience with concurrent sessions, empowering individual employees to choose their own experience.

When researching virtual conferences, we’ve discovered that there are ways to maintain this personalization for your virtual audience just as effectively as your in-person audience. For example, you may choose to work with a virtual event platform that empowers you to broadcast all live event sessions to a virtual audience. Then, because some platforms can also support multi-track and concurrent sessions, it’s not far from the personalized experience employees are familiar with.

While written for an association audience, this Web Courseworks guide to virtual conferences for associations contains additional valuable tips that can apply to any type of virtual conference— including your next virtual training event.

Devise ways for in-person and virtual learners to interact

With in-person educational events, we’ve found that it’s a great idea to incorporate breakout sessions. In these sessions, learners join together to discuss a specific topic, troubleshoot questions, or simply network for their own professional development.

While this is easy to incorporate with the in-person aspect of a hybrid event, it will require the assistance of software to include virtual attendees in the experience. Equip both in-person and virtual attendees with video conferencing software to meet with one another during these breakout sessions.

Drawing from popular online learning trends, another idea is to incorporate gamification in the event. Challenge your in-person and virtual attendees to compete against one another – whether to answer the most poll questions correctly throughout the event, attend the most sessions, or some other metric that inspires healthy competition. And, if you’re working with an LMS with gamification features, you can easily track this information to improve future events.

Collect data on your hybrid efforts for future improvement

The main reason why continuous learning is so valuable in the workplace is because it prevents stagnation and empowers teams to evolve over time. However, if you’re unable to track this progress over time, you’re not going to truly appreciate the impact this training has had!

We recommend measuring the success of your hybrid training events. For example, analyze your events by asking yourself:

  • Which sessions had the highest attendance?
  • Which sessions had the lowest attendance?
  • Which attendees had higher participation – in person or virtual?
  • Which sessions did attendees who were surveyed feel provided the most value?
  • How are learners scoring on any assessments?
  • Are there any weak points across the team with regards to assessments?

Not only will you discover which parts of your training event provided the most value to learners, but you might even discover that the option for virtual attendance is more popular than originally projected.

Ideally, you’re working with an LMS that has comprehensive data tracking and reporting for both virtual and in-person learning experiences. With this, you can generate essential reports on your future hybrid events. We also recommend working with an LMS that offers key integrations with your CRM or talent management software for increased efficiency with analysis of data after your events.

Ongoing learning opportunities through educational events are a great way to generate value for both employees and your company alike. However, when these events resume after the pandemic, it’s unlikely that they’re going to be the fully in-person events they were before COVID-19.

With a hybrid event, you can retain much of the existing experience while also providing new and exciting ways for learners to engage. With these strategies, you’ll be well on the way to engaging hybrid training events.

Amber Winter is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Web Courseworks. She’s committed to helping association executives realize the potential of their education programs and turn them into high performing revenue generators. Amber was named one of Madison, Wisconsin’s 40 under 40 and the number one LMS salesperson by Talented Learning.

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