The mobilization of technology has imprinted a new paradigm for knowledge consumption. Spiral-bound workbooks have been traded in for laptops and tablets as learners opt for a more bite-sized method to develop skills on the go. Teaching in a technology-fused learning environment poses a challenge to many instructors—as most have not been adequately trained to leverage today’s technology and are unaware of how to adapt their course materials.
While some companies are trending toward offering a blended training approach to cross the divide of synchronous (traditional instructor-led classroom) and asynchronous (traditional online learning) there has yet to be a fully-vetted, defined model that is trusted and accepted by training department leaders, instructors and students. Training programs are often devised around available resources, budget and student schedules with the learning environment coming in a distant fourth. For many on-demand, self-paced training has contributed to a significant savings, but student engagement has suffered and non-completion rates continue to rise.
A New Way to Learn and Train
Next Generation Classroom embraces a hybrid learning model, and when properly adopted, allows instructors greater opportunities to successfully transfer knowledge to learners through both live lecture and hands-on breakout sessions for increased interaction with content. This provides a richer and more constructive dialogue between students and instructors.
The essential ingredients to an effective learning experience are founded on the successful integration of:
- Physical and virtual space
- Interactive content
- Instructor’s skills
Physical and Virtual Space: Next Generation Classroom harnesses and leverages all of the key learning success factors. The use of space is combined to include both virtual and physical proximity in a hybrid learning and/or virtual lab environment. This learning environment is more conducive to successful knowledge transfer and an engaged learner. The opportunity to the training organization is faster training time to market and improved efficiencies as locality and distance no longer have to be managed in separate learning modalities.
Instructors can use their native skillset for effective training in both the physical and virtual space simultaneously. The same proven student-trainer relationships exist in both spaces and the student to student interactions are real time and visually based. Next Generation Classroom eliminates the “have and have nots” for an equal learner experience for all students—eliminating learning segregation..
Technology: The technology is simple, but integrates powerful tools that work well for in-class and remote learners equally. Two-way video conferencing technologies with robust communication and teaching tools, virtual lab environments and digital content delivery systems are components of Next Generation Classroom that equalize the learning environment for all students. Regardless of their proximity to the instructor, these tools promote collaboration and provide a method for robust interaction between instructors and students cross-directionally.
In the past, online collaboration tools were designed primarily for business communications and were only harnessed for training as an afterthought. Those platforms are data-centric, with add-on and embedded Voice over IP (VoIP), coupled with traditional audio conferencing as a backup. Accordingly, they were never designed for live classrooms combined with virtual students to allow for natural communications not only between students and instructors, but also student to student.
Interactive Content: Since we’re leveraging the combination of existing training delivery methods, much of the content developed for a particular mode of learning (on-demand, virtual, live instructor-led) can be easily adapted and enhanced for success. The modification of content may involve chunking modules into smaller portions, interspersing polls and small group breakouts within lessons, and finding other creative ways to improve training materials so they are more visual and interactive. The key is to leverage available technology to enhance learner interaction with the course content.
Instructor's Skills: There are various certification programs and quick tip videos available to bridge the skills gap, but in reality, the leap to teaching in a hybrid learning environment often involves only a few quick pilot sessions to get acclimated to the technology, environment and mix of localized and virtual students.
For the majority of experienced instructors, they already possess the baseline teaching skills and those skills are enhanced when engaging in Next Generation instruction. Instructors are encouraged not to change their style of teaching, but to evolve it with greater focus on interactions with all students and awareness of the learning conversations that naturally develop between the local and remote students. It takes just a short period of time for instructors to realize there is a much greater degree of visual interaction and accountability transpiring, resulting in the requirement for a more focused approach on active participation and learning for all students.
For decades, companies have tried to cross the divide between synchronous and asynchronous learning in an attempt to create efficiencies, flexibility and convenience for learning. The problem isn’t in the technology or training delivery itself, but in how those components are combined—harnessing the power from each to create the ultimate learning experience.