How to Keep Your Training Plans Flexible (In-Person or Online)

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Flexibility.  

It’s something most employees want in their careers, and it’s becoming increasingly important for companies to offer it—both to keep current employees happy (retention), and to be competitive in attracting new hires. Because of this, the importance of incorporating flexibility into training is also on the rise, thus making the concept of hybrid training increasingly popular among both trainers and participants.

Hybrid training is the idea that companies can offer both face-to-face and virtual learning environments to meet the organization’s training goals, while still offering flexibility for the learners. Hybrid training ratios may change over time: one session could lean heavily towards in-person, while the next could tilt decidedly towards online attendance. That’s why successful training may depend on keeping your instruction (and your plans) flexible.

Luckily, there are a few easy ways to keep your instructional design loose and limber.

Hybridize Your Design

Keeping your training plans flexible usually means embracing the possibility that any session may need to be taught in both an online and face-to-face setting. This hybrid approach to instructional design needs to be thoughtful and thorough, but there are a few easy ways to get started:

  • Use visuals that communicate well for both in person and online audiences. For example, if you have a PowerPoint, make sure slides are legible on both big projector screens and moderately sized laptop monitors.
  • Make sure in-person activities have a viable and effective virtual counterpart. You don’t want to shortchange participants who are attending remotely.
  • Familiarize yourself with online tools. If you would use breakout sessions in an in-person training session, make sure you know how breakout rooms work in your online application.

Make Sure Documents Are Digitized (and Printable)

Most training programs have handouts, from convenient how-to guides to actionable checklists. It’s pretty easy to hand out these forms in a face-to-face setting, giving one to each participant. But in order to stay flexible, it’s a good idea to make sure all of these forms are digitized and available online.

Digital documents provide you with several advantages. Even if your training session meets face-to-face, digital forms mean your learners can easily access resources for an extended period of time. Digital forms are easy to save, edit, and find. Physical forms are likely to be lost--and that won’t help participants one bit. Plus, if your session moves to a virtual space, all of your digitized handouts remain conveniently located and distributable.

Keep Lines of Communication Open and Clear

Any good relationship depends on strong communication. And that’s certainly true when it comes to learners and trainers. Lack of communication can box you in and make it difficult to quickly change directions. 

That’s why it’s essential that your lines of communication with participants remain open, clear, and strong. (One easy trick is to provide learners with a little pre-session homework to make sure they’re checking their email and have valid contact information.)

Communicate any changes as early as possible (with as much detail as you have). And make this kind of communication standard for your training courses.

Focus on Interaction

Maintaining momentum and energy in a training session--whether virtual or face-to-face--often comes down to energy. Trainers and participants feed off each other’s energy. Ensuring you have a flexible plan in person and online often boils down to a focus on interaction. Here are a few ways to keep things interactive:

  • Use ice breakers and warm up activities: Have several activities ready for both online and in-person settings.
  • Use breakout rooms in online settings to give participants a chance to interact with each other.
  • Have a system in place to ensure participants can interact with you during both face-to-face and virtual sessions (ex: raising a hand or sending a comment with a chat function).
  • Have plans in place to promote interaction between in-person learners and virtual participants. This can help both groups feel connected to each other and build lasting professional bonds!

Build these interactive activities into your typical routines—that way, participants will feel energized and engaged even when you need to quickly change course.

Be Prepared for Anything

You won’t be able to predict the future, but you can stay aware and informed and plan ahead. Ensuring your training session can fit into a F2F, online, or hybrid model can help you stay flexible and make sure your training schedule stays on track!

To make sure you’re prepared for anything, register for the How to Quickly Convert Classroom Teaching to Live Online Crash Course or Interactive Virtual Trainer Workshop.

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