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Top Ten Tips for Running a Hybrid Learning Session

A hybrid meeting or learning event can be extremely convenient by providing the option of in-person or virtual participation. But the facilitation of a hybrid meeting can be quite tricky. When the hybrid session is a learning event then the design of the activities is also a key consideration.

  1. First consideration: Do you need to hold a hybrid meeting at all?! A hybrid session is convenient for your participants but does not always facilitate the best learning experience. Before trying to design a hybrid session first make sure it is absolutely necessary!
  2. Focus on the needs of the remote participants equally to the needs of those attending in-person. This sounds like common senses but…one of the biggest challenges in facilitating a hybrid learning session is to ensure equal interaction between virtual and in-person participants. Your tendency will be to focus on the live people in front of you. This means you’ll need to actually give your virtual participants a little more of your attention to ensure they are engaged and you notice when they have questions.
  3. Set Ground Rules. Ground rules are absolutely key in facilitating a successful hybrid event. Keep everyone muted including people in the room! Set a clear ground rule that questions will only be answered via a raised hand. Ensure your online participants now where/how to raise their virtual hand. Then alternate on calling on virtual and in-person participants to answer their questions.
  4. Use producers. Have someone in the role of “producer” in the physical room, and for larger meetings, another that is remote.
  5. Ensure you have skilled facilitators. All learning sessions need a skilled facilitator to make key learning points, facilitate dialogue, and move the agenda ahead. Facilitating a virtual session takes different skills that combine standard facilitation skills with technological savvy. But facilitating a learning session with both in-person and virtual participants requires experience and practice!
  6. Equalize the Q&A. If a question and answer component (in real-time) or segment (a designated Q&A period) is included in the format of meeting, this should be introduced at the start of the meeting. This enables participants to note ideas as the discussion progresses. When it’s time to ask for questions from the remote audience, they will be prepared.
  7. Display remote participants. Make it a requirement for remote participants to turn on their video!
  8. Ensure remote participants can see the people in the room, both participants and presenters. This will require your meeting room to be equipped with a wide angle webcam.
  9. Design activities to include everyone! This means thinking through how discussions, learning activities and breakouts will be facilitated equally for in-person and virtual participants.
  10. Get help! The best tip is to not try to do all of this by yourself. Consider having a technology expert to help monitor the sessions for issues that they can then resolve via a private chat. Try to have two facilitators that alternate between presenting and paying attention to your online participants. Whomever is not actively presenting can also setup polls, breakouts, etc.

Please share your experience so we can learn collectively how to implement impactful leadership development programs. Contact ODLS Director Dana Henry

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