How to Facilitate Hybrid and Blended Learning Courses
Hybrid and blended learning environments are now highly commonplace—and often necessary—due to public health concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. In other words, the option to facilitate or instruct a course exclusively in-person is rarely available. While these truths are not new to adult education (specifically eLearning), the prevalence of this online-only wave in education means finding new ways to adapt and thrive.
Whether you’re a facilitator, an instructor, or the person in training, you’re already likely balancing an online life with your IRL endeavors. Thankfully, there are some best practices to follow when presenting a blended or hybrid course. These practices help make any eLearning experience more approachable and accessible for everyone involved.
Before we begin, let’s touch on a key difference between hybrid and blended learning. Both terms are interchangeable in most contexts. However, hybrid learning involves using online components of the course to replace portions of the synchronous (or real-time) learning. This might involve a power point or training manual that covers the same topics as your live instruction. With a blended course, online materials are designed to supplement any real-time instruction. Blended courses require learning both synchronously and asynchronously to be completed.
Best Practices to Facilitate Learning with Hybrid and Blended Learning
Preparation is your best friend when it comes to both blended and hybrid education. Preparing to instruct a blended or hybrid course requires two sets of planning. You’ll first want to prepare for your synchronous lessons. This means having notes ready on all materials and being prepared to answer questions (regarding course topics) from your learners. In-person guidance in a blended setting is integral to the experience. It can come in many forms: interactive activities, Q&A portions, and good old-fashioned lecturing are all options. A mix of each of these techniques will aid your learners in retaining new information.
Secondly, you will also want to have all necessary online materials readily available prior to introducing the course. Hybrid courses will lean heavily on this aspect of preparation. Doing so will help your learners avoid falling behind on course milestones. Being completely prepared with engaging online material will set your learners on the right path toward completing their tasks, which will empower them during their training.
Keep Each of Your Learners Connected
If you are facilitating a training or instructing anyone who is learning exclusively online, do your best to set up conferences with them—keep them engaged through any one-on-one discussion you can. This is a tactful way to gauge how their experience is sinking (or not sinking) in. Utilize chat tools and any other communication avenues to keep each learner in touch with one another. Group discourse on training will help you gauge how your instruction is aiding your learners’ growth.
Your home base is online with blended and hybrid courses. Stay up to date with how your hardware and software interfaces with your course content. Be sure that any devices you’re using to instruct/present to remote-in individuals are updated and ready for broadcasting without lag or delay. Doing so will strengthen the network you share with everyone you’re training.
Give Yourself Room to Breath
Sometimes things aren’t going to go smoothly. The Wi-Fi may drop out. You may have a fully remote learner clipping in-and-out of a meeting. Whatever situations arise remember that learning is the goal. Being aware of your own needs as an instructor/facilitator and the needs of your learners will make the experience more enjoyable for everyone. Even the best laid plans can have their hiccups. As long as you’re prepared, every eTool you have at your disposal will ultimately elevate your ability to engage with and educate each individual successfully. Whether you’re supplementing instruction (blending) or facilitating a primarily online course (hybridizing), approaching eLearning with a positive mindset and room for the occasional error will encourage your participants to be patient, relaxed, and involved.