Fiona Leteney
Senior Analyst
Fosway Group

Optimising Learning Technology to
Support Hybrid Working

By guest author and senior industry analyst, Fiona Leteney of Fosway Group

Most organisations have adopted hybrid ways of working which in turn are driving new learning strategies. From online to face-to-face and synchronous to asynchronous delivery, learning technologies need to be able to support a wide range of learning modalities at the same time, and at scale. Supporting these increasingly complex requirements will potentially involve multiple learning technologies. How these technologies work together will be key to driving learning and performance for hybrid workers.

This blog will explain:

  • The drivers for hybrid learning
  • What technology is required to support it
  • And why there is the need for these various systems to have ‘ecosystem-ness’ capability

The drivers for hybrid learning

Demand for remote work soared because of the pandemic and as a result, organisations are developing and evolving their hybrid working policy to balance employees’ time spent working from home with time in the office.

This year’s Fosway Digital Learning Realities Survey asks about the impact of hybrid working on learning and early indicative results reveal that 54% of respondents say the impact has been significant with only 2% saying there has been no change. Hybrid learning will vary for each organisation, however, at its heart, hybrid learning must be inclusive, providing development opportunities for remote workers and ensuring no one is excluded because they are not physically present in a specific location – be it the office or classroom. The need for inclusivity also extends beyond internal employees, taking in customers too (known as the extended enterprise).

Just like hybrid working, hybrid learning is evolving fast and is being defined in different ways. For many, it is essentially a blended experience, which can be both synchronous or asynchronous using various modalities. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to define hybrid learning as the delivery of learning in a face-to-face context, with attendees joining virtually or physically at the same time ie synchronously. These will be higher value learning programs providing in-depth learning as well as opportunities to put learning into practice.

The technology required to support hybrid learning

Technology plays a significant role in the hybrid learning experience. In the physical classroom, a laptop/desktop will be required for each student, and this might need to be set up for a specific topic and involve virtual labs to enable practice. The room itself will need to be wired for sound and vision including technology that enables the facilitator to facilitate rather than manage the technology – so that the camera moves as the trainer moves, for example. There will be screens around the room, so the trainer is able to see and interact with those joining virtually.

Managing the physical resources including room booking, technology hardware and a technician, will require Training Resource Management. Often this type of resource management has been tackled by an admin using a spreadsheet. However, the more face-to-face events have shifted from physical to virtual and hybrid, the more complex this has become, resulting in the need for the admins to use a dedicated training resource management system. This does not replace the learning management system, where the learner would continue to access and book the program, or the virtual classroom.

Why ‘ecosystem-ness’ capability matters

Each of these systems will need to be connected or integrated so the data can be entered once and shared where it is needed to ensure learners are booked, either virtually or physically, at the right time and in the right place, plus all the pre-reads and joining instructions are sent out. Also, the right qualified instructor is assigned to the group and knows who to expect where, and has an attendance register to take so the learner gains credit and even a badge or certificate on completion.

Some systems are better at being part of this type of ecosystem than others, but connectivity is essential to ensure that this kind of delivery can be easily administered at scale in the most effective and efficient way possible.

The analytics and reporting of all the data back to the right places is a significant requirement too, so that measurement of the impact of this learning can be evident for both the individual, their manager, and the organisation via the system of record, usually a core HR system. Successful completion could mean the learner has upskilled or reskilled and therefore opportunities could automatically be revealed both internally or externally on projects through an organisation’s talent marketplace. Keeping the data in all these systems up-to-date should not be an admin’s responsibility, the data should flow seamlessly and automatically through the learning and wider ecosystem.

Find out more about the Fosway 9-Grid™ for Learning Systems and read the full report here. You can also contact Fiona via @fionaleteney or @fosway on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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