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Delivering Engaging Classroom Training for a Mix of In-class and Remote Participants

Last year, one of our clients approached us with a pertinent question: We have been conducting instructor-led training (ILT) programs – face-to-face and virtual – very successfully all these years. But now we have both in-class and remote participants in the same class. How do we deliver a training program that works for this mixed audience? 

Many organizations that had primarily relied on classroom-based workshops for their workforce training faced the same dilemma during the pandemic. While some organizations were able to convert their existing workshops to online learning programs and meet the immediate learning requirements; many organizations, where instructors played a crucial role in the teaching process, struggled to cope with this situation. 

The question is relevant in the current post-pandemic world as well with many organizations having a hybrid workforce comprising employees who work on-premises, remotely, and a combination of both. Employees are choosing to work from home permanently or partially for various reasons, including better productivity and work-life balance. Organizations have accepted a hybrid workforce as a norm and have started to recognize its benefits from both business and sustainability perspectives.  In a nutshell, the hybrid workforce is here to stay. 

Considering that the hybrid workforce is going to be the new norm and that the preferred delivery method for  most small, mid-size, and large companies is still instructor-led or classroom training, we need to adapt our training model to include both in-class and remote employees. 

One such model that we recommend is Next Generation Classroom (NGC)

What is Next Generation Classroom?

Next Generation Classroom is a teaching environment that allows instructors to conduct effective training programs for a blend of in-class and remote participants.

Let’s look at some of the features of the Next Generation Classroom: 

  • Technology driven: A mix of technologies such as a learning collaboration platform, video conferencing tools, etc. are used to ensure that the instructors and the materials they are presenting are accessible to all participants irrespective of their location. It also allows remote participants to synchronously interact with the instructor and in-classroom participants.
  • Interactive: The environment allows the instructors to push digital assets such as videos, audio bites, interactive graphics, gamified quizzes, etc. to the participants, and both in-class and remote participants attempt these from their devices. This ensures a consistent learning experience for all participants.
  • Personalized: It enables the instructor to create personalized learning pathways for the participants. Using a learning collaboration platform, instructors can track the performance of each participant, provide the necessary additional support, and help them reach their goal.
  • Content Agnostic: It is apt for delivering all types of content, especially technical content, that requires SME support. 

Why Go for Next Generation Classroom?

Next Generation Classroom can help organizations build effective, inclusive, and lean training programs. It is inclusive, as participants are not limited by their location or time zone to take the training, which is critical for the reach and success of the training programs. It also allows organizations to optimize their training calendar.

Next Generation Classroom requires instructors to deliver focused training with suitable interactivities. They must take special care to ensure there is interaction with the in-class and remote participants and engage each participant in the training. Additionally, they must also provide guidance, based on the participant’s performance in the class. All these enable the instructors to provide a better learning experience. 

Next Generation Classroom allows participants to engage with the content and their cohorts. This is especially beneficial for remote participants who are passive learners in a training setup for the blended audience. Active participation would lead to better information retention and better on-the-job transfer of learning. 

How to Set Up Next Generation Classroom 

  1. Tools & Technology 
    Next Generation Classroom uses technology to provide the same learning experience for both in-class and remote participants. 
    •  Good camera placed at the right angle is a must for the instructor to be seen by the remote participants.
    • All participants and instructors must connect to the training through a video conferencing app.
    • Instructor must wear a microphone and connect it to a video conferencing app to be clearly heard.
    • A learning collaboration platform that allows sharing of information, quizzes, gamified knowledge checks, and polls is required. Some platforms allow tracking each interaction of the participants. There are many learning collaboration platforms available in the market. Choose a platform based on your requirement. 
    • Good Internet connectivity is required for both instructors and participants. 
    • Content must be designed by using an appropriate instructional method to ensure maximum comprehension and application.
    • Instructor must be comfortable with using the technologies.

  2. Learning Design 
    To engage the participants, the instructors must adapt their current instructor-led training (in-class and virtual) materials to make them suitable for Next Generation Classroom.

    Here are some key points to make the content more suitable for Next Generation Classrooms:
    •  Long topics and long lectures are not recommended. Considering the attention span of modern learners, micro learnings are found to be most effective.
    • To ensure active participation, it is preferred to go for blended learning – short self-learning courses followed by lectures – for each concept.
    • Utilize a Learning Management System (LMS) for self-learning. This provides an opportunity to present concepts in creative ways by using multiple learning modalities – eLearning, videos, interactive PDFs, games, assessments, etc. LMS also helps to track the progress of the participants.
    • Lectures must be as interactive as possible. Based on the technology used, quizzes, polls, games, etc. can be used to engage the participants and make training fun and effective. A learning collaboration platform allows instructors to track the progress of each participant and provide the necessary guidance.

With the instructors’ existing classroom experience, they can easily adapt to Next Generation Classroom, though they may require some training to effectively use and manage the technologies.

Conclusion

Getting the right talents is critical for business, and talents are not concentrated in a single place or geography. Distributed teams working from different parts of the world are now becoming a common phenomenon across organizations. To build a strong, well-connected, distributed team, organizations must embed diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the work environment, including their training initiatives. When it comes to instructor-led training, Next Generation Classroom ensures equity and inclusion. Employees are not left behind because they are in a different time zone or country. 

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