The Year of the Virtual Hybrid

If 2020 was the year of the virtual lockdown, we at Virtual Training Associates (VTA) predict that 2021 will be the year of the “Virtual Hybrid.”

HybridDisappointments and Triumphs?

In 2020, virtual training technologies skyrocketed out of necessity. Wall Street found companies such as Zoom and true to its name, it skyrocketed. Of course, there were many other sites and services, especially in the education area. By “education,” we are using it in its broadest possible term from ethics training as we do at Virtual Training Associates to fourth-grade geography.

The report card has come in on many of the 2020 courses, particularly schools. The results are not pretty. Multiple stories abound from psychologists to professional testing experts to parents who found that for many students 2020 was a wasted year and a waste of time. Many fear that students who were exclusively “virtually trained” fell badly behind not only in their educations but in their social skills.

This lack of social interaction particularly interested us. As we teach corporate ethics, sports ethics, sexual harassment prevention and similar topics; topics that by their nature address social climates in workplaces, it caused us great concern.

While societal adaptation to the lockdown led to triumphs in technology, we may be headed for grave disappointment as well. Indeed, 2020 and early 2021 has shown massive amounts of fraud and scandalous activity. If society viewed a virus as helping to prevent unacceptable ethical behaviors, they were sadly disappointed.

An Unlikely Source

At VTA we draw inspiration from multiple sources. Law enforcement has faced a wringer of disapproval and anger; some of it well deserved. As the first wave of vaccinations were occurring in the waning days of 2020, the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement, issued a report on methodologies of training police officers. We noted in their report as well as other sources the advocacy of hybrid models defined by the organization as:

“A Hybrid course uses an online asynchronous format to deliver content with a scheduled in-person or live virtual event at a later time to emphasize skills building or engage in group discussion.”

By asynchronous, we are referring to the vast numbers of training materials where “students (again, broadest definition)” were required to log-on to a site, patiently sit quiet and internalize everything as truth – or not.

In the vacuum of oversite, and despite the “trainer” claiming to feed the material to everyone from sales representatives to accountants, bribery, fraud, scandal and widespread sexual harassment continued unabated.

The Factor

There is a common thread and dire need in all of this that is not as apparent as it should be. For the most part, teachers were not prepared to teach. Despite the technology, the quality of the coursework was tepid at best.

Furthermore, students disengaged from the voices and lesson plans of un-trained and under-prepared instructors.

As virtual and in-person trainers, Virtual Training Associates has honed its techniques, production quality, course material and most important, student engagement.

We heartily endorse the need for in-person training in 2021 to supplement virtual training. Numerous studies – and we wholeheartedly agree – point to the need for strong trainers to reinforce, in person, lessons that have been given in little Zoom boxes, PowerPoint charts and podcasts.

Students must be engaged. Whether we are talking about bribery prevention, sexual harassment deterrence or other issues of fraud, a trained, engaged and motivated in-person instructor must be part of the equation.

Without human reinforcement, we fear that the same issues that occurred in 2020 will persist in 2021 and beyond. To prevent unethical behavior requires presence and engagement.



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