Towards a hybrid engagement offer: DLNET Chat June 2021

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Lisa Peter

This month’s chat was about how organisations navigate the move back to (some) on-site engagement while still continuing to deliver online learning programmes. Our pre-chat poll had indicated that the majority of respondents was looking at hybrid delivery in the coming months, but there is also still some caution around re-opening and a return to physical engagement.

 

This might have to do with the fact that the UK home nations follow slightly different schedules, and restrictions aren’t lifted at the same pace throughout the UK. 

In addition, not all audiences are feeling confident about in-person activities at the moment. They might feel that more hands-off visits are more within their comfort zone for the time being than a more interactive engagement, no matter how Covid-proofed they may be. 

On the other hand, many organisations are similarly cautious about what the future will bring, and are programming accordingly.

After all, hybrid models have advantages too, in terms of access and in terms of geographical reach with potential audiences in the wider Anglosphere:

The second area we touched on in the chat was about what programming decisions are based on, given that there still is quite a bit of uncertainty around what feels comfortable for visitors and staff at the moment. 

One point was quite fundamentally that in some case it is not just a question of which kind of engagement works best in which format, but that this relies on whether a site can be re-opened in a Covid-safe way in the first place:

Speaking of resourcing, we were interested to see how sustainable hybrid engagement models are, also given that many organisations had to reduce the number of staff over the pandemic.

Hopefully it won’t become an either/or decision for organisations going forward, as so much has been learned about online engagement in the last year and a half, but the focus might have to move slightly away from the perception that a physical visit is more valid than a digital engagement:

The final question was quite cheekily looking for the Holy Grail of hybrid engagement and whether a truly blended approach of in-person and digital engagement could work and be efficient in time and money as well as being more accessible and more useful for audiences. I think it’s fair to say that the answers speak for themselves: we as a sector change because our audiences change. It might take a while (as it always does), but we’ll keep working on it!

Thanks to all the chat participants last week, it was great to see audience needs at the centre of people’s thinking first and foremost!

The next DLNET Chat will be on Twitter, Friday July 2 at 1pm, so watch this space!

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