Teachers who Master Hybrid Learning will Rule Online Training World

What Higher Education can Learn from Corporate Training Practices in Time of Corona

As many universities continue to adapt to hybrid education a month into the new academic year, Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences tapped into the expertise of professional corporate trainer Tim Birdsall to learn how companies have dealt with workplace learning in a time of corona to keep developing employees’ skillsets.

Birdsall said organisational tiredness is currently one of the biggest challenges for companies. “Many of my customers are complaining they are simply drained from months of constantly being in front of the computer, fielding zoom calls, etc.,” Birdsall said in an online interview with Wittenborg President, Peter Birdsall.

Tim trains soft skills development in corporate environments, such as team building, sales training, leadership training, change management, conflict management, coaching and negotiation skills.

Peter: “From September, every student at Wittenborg must have a laptop. It makes it easier to share screens and PowerPoints rather than pointing a camera at a PowerPoint.”

Tim:  “In the corporate world we have a similar kind of setup where participants are expected to open laptops and use some of these whiteboarding, flipcharting techniques. What we found is that if you have a group of participants looking at their laptops, that's fine, but the participants expect you to get them standing up and moving in communication situations where they are freed from their laptops. It is a participant expectation that you, the trainer, will give them breaks from the laptop, because they won't take them from their own motivation.  This is replicating the small group work activity that can happen in a break-out room online - with a little bit of humour, a little bit of small talk and a little bit of breaking the flow of the lesson to increase the learning curve and get people to concentrate in a more focused way."

Peter: "How do you deal with passive participants? You obviously have vocal students and others who are naturally more passive and online experience makes them more so. This leaves teachers looking for ways to make them break out."

Tim: "There is no such thing as a bad participant. It is the trainer who cannot deal with the situation. Participants will do what they're instructed to do. Some people learn by listening more – that’s their learning style – and that’s absolutely fine. But if you want to bring them into the process, you do this by breaking a larger group into a smaller group and forcing them to speak up. Even then, the really passive participant will allow others to speak first. In my understanding, there are a couple of imperative things as well. Teachers need to be able to say at the beginning of the lesson that students must remove all distractions – switch off your phone, close your browser. Multitasking is a myth. "

Peter: "That's a real clear pointer. I notice we do it too. Everyone is multitasking – being in important meetings but at the same time writing an email or a document. For me, this lowers the value of a meeting."

Tim: "If I was giving advice to a lecturer I would say, if you're doing a lecture tomorrow or the day after, take a blank piece of paper and just write down 5 things you would love the students to be able to do during that webinar or hybrid session – for example, explain a balance sheet successfully, or describe the swat analysis according to the project, or how we are going to write a marketing plan for this product. The teachers who master hybrid teaching will be masters of the online training world. "

Peter: "I think we agree that students in classrooms as well as those logging in online should get their money’s worth."

Tim: "I think using breakout rooms is fundamental – it gives participants the chance to interact in small groups for a few minutes and gives the lecturer space to assess where the lesson stands and is going. For longer group work – the lessons have to be extremely well-designed, breaking down the tasks of different people in the group."

WUP 11/10/2020
by  James Wittenborg
©Wittenborg University Press

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