Learning and Development has been on quite a journey over the last twenty years as it has been forced to morph and adapt to a world that is changing faster than any of us could have imagined. The exponential growth of technology has transformed how we think about education and training our staff and what worked just a few years ago, might be completely irrelevant today. One of the major trends that has exploded in popularity is a blended approach to learning and development called ‘Hybrid Learning’. And in order to understand why it’s become such a big deal; we need to walk through how we got here.
The Journey to Get Here
Traditionally, before technology was a part of the picture, learning and development was done through large in-person sessions. Think of your traditional lecture series where one presenter would share knowledge to a large room and the most interaction you might get would be a couple of questions at the end. This was how things were done for a long time. Lectures were a great way to disperse information at scale and bring the expertise of industry leaders to the masses. However, the con was a lack of personalization and a rather passive way to ingest knowledge. You would feel inspired and enlightened in the moment, but it’s doubtful how much actually was taken on board long-term.
Eventually, we started to get a bit more creative because we realized that one-way information sharing wasn’t as useful as we thought. And so workshops became the norm. These would mix up information-sharing sessions with smaller group activities designed to get people to apply the knowledge they had learned. However, this took an awful lot of time away from the office and that wasn’t ideal when the business still had to function. In addition, there was no immediate application of those principles once the workshop was done – meaning that it lost relevance. There’s a famous concept called ‘The Forgetting Curve’ coined by Hermann Ebbinghaus which demonstrates that about 70% of information is lost within 24 hours if we don’t make any attempt to retain it. This what happens with workshops, they just aren’t effective on their own.
So, we overcompensated in the other direction and built tools for digital education where a course could be delivered at scale and could be completed at your desk without any in-person learning. In addition, digital learning facilitates spaced repetition which reinforces concepts, improves retention, and helps with on-the-job application. These programs enabled some personalization and efficiency because you go complete it at your own pace and in your own time, but they still lacked the immersion and social accountability that makes for optimal learning.
It was about time that we combined them all.
The Rise of Hybrid Learning
Hybrid Learning is a methodology that combines all these three experiences into one cohesive program. By combining traditional classroom experiences, experiential learning objectives, and digital course delivery – we can get the best parts of each and create incredibly effectual and sustainable skills development.
Learning has never been a one-size-fits-all approach and this type of thinking creates opportunities to develop employees holistically in a way that engages and immerses them in the content. It’s enabled by technology, but it’s so much more than just a tool. It’s a mindset that speaks to all that we’ve learned from cognitive psychology about how we acquire skills.
How are Companies Using Hybrid Learning?
Here are just a few examples of large corporations who are using hybrid learning to streamline their learning and development processes:
- EY, the global professional services firm, was able to transform 2,900 hours of classroom learning into 700 hours of web-based learning, 200 hours of distance learning, and 500 hours of classroom instruction – creating efficiencies and time savings while improving the quality of the overall skill development.
- Boeing, the aviation giant, re-built all of their in-person sales training into a virtual learning environment, which were then supplemented by more niche in-person training activities based on the salesperson’s unique role. This provided a much more focused and bespoke training system for each individual, greatly improving results.
- Intel, the famed home of the micro-processor, relies heavily on their technicians to ensure consistent quality in their factories. They went all-in with a hybrid approach that combined digital simulations, scenarios and interactive in-person exercises in an attempt to maintain the required operational standards across all their factories. They estimated the ROI impact at 157% as a result of these changes.
The list goes on and on. Hybrid learning truly is the trend that is taking learning and development by storm and if you’re not going to jump on this train, you’re going to be left behind. Even if you don’t have the budgets that these big names have, you can look towards a plethora of emerging companies offering hybrid learning solutions in the space which combine the best of technology with the best of human coaching.
Hybrid learning offers holistic and sustainable learning and development that empowers your employees to continue developing their skills and applying it for the good of your organization. What are you waiting for?