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Hybrid Learning: A Bridge to Hybrid Working

Details: Written by Kate Hutchinson |

The Skills Network welcomes recent industry discussions around the benefits of AI and immersive learning solutions. Explore why a blended learning approach to work placements might just be what the next generation needs to become “work ready” in 2024.

The demand for hybrid working is increasing

In a post covid society, the word ‘hybrid’ has become synonymous with new ways of flexible working. In February 2022, 84% of workers who worked from home because of the Coronavirus pandemic said they planned to continue with a mix of working from home and in their place of work in the future.

The demand for hybrid working job roles shows no sign of slowing down with a 31% increase in the advertisement of ‘hybrid’ job roles in Q1 2022 compared to Q4 2021, whilst ‘remote working’ options continue to wane.

Despite the widespread adoption of hybrid working patterns and technological advancement in the professional sphere, education providers are at risk of becoming left behind and not preparing adult learners appropriately for the world of hybrid work.

In a recent select committee discussion, Skills Minister Robert Halfon suggested that T-Levels could benefit from a hybrid placement approach following a successful intake of students during the Coronavirus pandemic, whereby rules were relaxed and up to 40% of their placement was carried out online.

The current adult educational system remains predominantly focused on the 9 to 5 classroom-based learning experience; often leaving learners excluded, disengaged and unprepared for the real-world work environment. There is a notable gap between the nature of increasingly digital and hybrid working job roles and the preparedness to thrive in those roles amongst the future workforce.

The Skills Network believe that immersive AI solutions and blended learning practices can help bridge this gap and transform the landscape of digital learning, bringing education up to speed with modern-day working.

There is cross-generational demand for blended and online learning

Looking at how learners access their information is pivotal for the education sector to keep pace with modern technological advancement. The Skills Network identified a cross-generational demand to harness immersive learning technology in our recent Generational Divide report; whereby 74% of Generation X respondents stated they prefer to learn online and 13% of Generation Z stated they prefer to use VR headsets.

Gen Z respondents demonstrated a unique demand for learning to be accessible across an array of devices such as VR headsets, laptops (36%) phones (26%) and tablets (25%). The evidence suggests that the way in which generations access and interact with educational information has changed considerably over the years whilst ultimately cementing a cross-generational preference for online and on-the-go learning.

A key correlation between hybrid learning and hybrid working, is the need for flexibility- something that the traditional classroom-based model does not cater for. Only 20% of Generation X and 16% of Gen Z respondents prefer to learn in a classroom environment and yet, this is still the most dominant learning delivery method.

Learners want to study at a time and pace that suits them, and this can vary depending on age, with Baby Boomers considering just 28 minutes to be their ideal duration of study time.

The demand for flexible, bite-sized and episodic study facilitated by the use of technology is a key skill and behaviour pattern that can prepare learners for real-world hybrid working environments.

AI learning and immersive technology can break through emotional and social barriers

There is a misconception when compared to face-to-face learning that immersive and online learning reduces the ability to socially interact with team members and that social and emotional learning skills are dulled.

Recent evidence challenges this misconception and suggests that immersive technologies are particularly effective at breaking through emotional barriers and can elicit empathy where other methods have failed. Even subjects who had demonstrated a reasonably low level of empathic ability were positively affected by the implementation of immersive learning technologies. Equally, reports have shown that there was an increase in understanding of people from other cultures.

AI learning can equip learners with the emotional intelligence required for online interaction and is a highly valuable skill that can prepare learners for digital, hybrid and remote working roles.

AI learning can enhance educational delivery across multiple industry sectors and work placements

When immersive technologies are utilised by education providers in a pedagogical manner, they have the potential to bolster and widen curriculum, enhancing outcomes in ways which have previously not been cost-efficient or scalable.

AI solutions can hold a unique place in a real-world working environment by enabling the learner to experience an elevated and risk-free immersive workspace. The ability to virtually conduct safe learning of practical elements such as; admitting medication to a patient, fitting pipework, or laying bricks and mixing mortar in real-time provides the learner with additional skills and crucial ‘on the job’ experience.

Through replicating real-life work scenarios without the barriers and red tape of official qualifications, colleague observation or potential risk, a learner can efficiently build their confidence and skill set at a pace that suits them. The scope for immersive AI-based learning across all sectors is significant and can bring mutual value to employers and learners alike.

Metaverse Learning and The Skills Network partnership

The Skills Network is proud to partner with Metaverse Learning and to champion the use of blended learning and AI solutions.

Metaverse’s use of virtual and augmented reality solutions, alongside The Skills Network’s depth of industry knowledge and experience, means we can offer the opportunity to develop skills and experience through accessible virtual means and at the learner’s pace. The scope and opportunity to expand is immense, with Metaverse courses available in the Health and Social Care, Early Years, Construction, Renewable Energy and the Engineering sector to name a few.

How The Skills Network and Metaverse Learning can help learners and education providers

Learners can independently progress in their training in a safe and risk-free virtual learning environment. By delivering a hybrid, AI-enabled learning programme, learners gain the ability to bridge the gap; becoming familiar at the earliest opportunity with digital competency, hybrid working patterns and behaviours they are likely to encounter in future working life.

Learners and education providers do not need to invest in fancy headsets or special equipment to access the engaging virtual experiences that Metaverse Learning has to offer. The Skills Network provides access through our award-winning LMS platform EQUAL, whereby Metaverse training resources can be easily accessed. Frictionless access to Metaverse Learning allows any school, college or university to embed immersive learning into their own unique curriculum provision and enhance learner outcomes.

The Skills Network believe that integrating AI learning solutions can facilitate in the modernisation of adult education delivery from Skills Bootcamps to study programmes. Education providers can harness the power of Metaverse Learning as part of their work experience delivery; built to suit their unique needs whether that be payment per learner, per class or per institution. Ultimately, AI learning solutions and blended learning models offer FE Partners and learners alike the edge in work readiness and employability through practice.

Jack McDougall, Head of Business Development at The Skills Network comments:

“We readily welcome the recent discussion of flexible work placements and AI solutions. We have already seen how technology and the world of work are moving at a considerable pace, so education needs to move with it and replicate the real world. AI solutions will never fully replace work placements, but they can help provide a more blended learning approach that will better equip learners with the skills and behaviours they need for life beyond education.”

“We hear a variety of tech terminology ranging from ‘AI learning,’ ‘VR’ and ‘mixed reality’- it can be easy to assume that these terms are reserved for the future, but this is happening now and it’s time that education providers caught up.”

The Skills Network can help support education providers and institutions to modernise their learning provision by offering low-cost, high-quality learning and scalable solutions.

If you want to learn more about how The Skills Network can help seamlessly integrate Metaverse Learning into your curriculum, click here to find out more