Hybrid Learning in Education: benefits and best practices

Hybrid Learning in Education: benefits and best practices
Hybrid learning is the combination of online and offline education when at least half of all learning time is allocated online. It’s often confused with blended learning, although as we’ll see, these approaches are different. Blended learning may be positioned as a type of hybrid learning or as a separate method, intended to connect offline education with online capabilities.

Various hybrid learning methods include the usage of online courses and various learning materials and require good learning organization and regular communication. It’s a good approach for ` facilities and businesses, enabling them to optimize all educational processes and apply various educational facilities.

The e-learning market, including hybrid and blended learning, has risen by 900% since 2000, so it clearly worth attention. Let’s explore the specifics and peculiarities of this education type and how you may implement it in your organization.

What is a hybrid learning

The hybrid learning definition is any type of learning plan that implies both online and offline teaching. While after-school learning activity is encouraged in most cases, it’s still not the case here. Hybrid learning requires an organized extracurricular activity, constant contact and communication with teachers, and access to various online learning materials, such as books, videos, and quizzes.

So, the hybrid learning meaning implies the presence of a clear organization of all online and remote student activities while providing them with all distance learning opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic and imposed lockdowns made such an approach widespread in both academic and corporate worlds.

Conversely, distance learning becomes hybrid when some part of its activities become offline. For example, universities can offer some part of their courses online, while another part is conducted in classrooms or laboratories. Usually, the exact plan of hybrid learning depends on the learners’ and teachers’ preferences and the measured efficiency of online and offline activities, which are then compared. If learners perform better when they access the course or some of its parts online, they are transferred online.

Types of hybrid learning

How exactly does it take place?

The hybrid approach combines offline and online learning to build the best possible learning environment for people. There are several primary approaches to do this, so let’s explore them.
  • Synchronous learning
    is presented as a real-time course, usually with regular contact and communication with a teacher and task completion with strict deadlines. During that, each week is planned in advance, and each day is filled with lectures, seminar tasks, online and offline meetings, and various quizzes.
  • Asynchronous learning
    isn’t tied to strict schedules and instead includes the material that needs to be mastered, a set of tasks, and only approximate deadlines. In asynchronous courses, students often watch recorded video lectures instead of the real-time lectures of synchronous learning, read various textbooks by themselves, and complete tasks at their own pace.
  • Remote teacher
    approach means the constant remote contact of a student group with a teacher. These learners can be in the classroom together while a teacher is present remotely in real time. Then, students can communicate with a teacher online, asking questions about the material. All course material and tasks assigned are accessible online.
  • Flipped classroom
    implies that most of the course material will be taught online, but some parts will be discussed and practiced during offline meetings. This approach usually requires rich online course content which students should study in a time set. Then they’ll complete practical tasks offline to reinforce their knowledge and discuss learned materials with classmates and the teacher.
All these types may be combined. For example, an essential part of the course may be synchronous, while various additional information can be presented as asynchronous, to be mastered gradually and without hard time boundaries. The remote teacher approach can be connected with offline meetings, especially in the case of educational activities that cannot be done online, such as industrial or laboratory practice. Such a combination is especially useful for corporate education, where the learning process must be integrated with workflows: employees may learn online while continuing to work, instantly implementing new knowledge in practice.

Benefits of hybrid learning

The advantages of hybrid learning follow from its usage of various online and offline educational approaches.
  • Flexibility
    means that education becomes more accessible and easy to plan. As a great part of activities becomes online, they can be accessed from anywhere. They can also be scheduled considering the teachers’ and students’ preferences. However, it’s important that the flexibility will not turn into detachment, when students lose engagement with the course material, decreasing their productivity, so maintaining motivation is essential for all types of online education.
  • Convenience
    for both teachers and students who can stay home is another obvious benefit. You can learn anything from physics to design from home and then test your skills here on your PC, reinforcing them. There is also a danger, however: isolation can lead to deteriorating consequences such as demotivation and apathy, so proper communication must always be maintained.
  • Cost-efficiency
    follows from the opportunity not to spend resources on regular classroom organization. A large part of hybrid educational activities can be conducted when students are either at home or workplace, instead of occupying a classroom, and many educational materials are also available online. All these aspects cost money in traditional offline education, which is saved during online or hybrid learning.
  • New learning methods
    due to various hybrid learning technologies and thousands of educational materials are available for those adopting partial distance education. While some activities are still offline,
  • Different engagement methods
    can also be used to retain learners’ attention on the subject that should be taught.
The reason why hybrid learning is good for your organization or environment is that it uses the latest technological advances and educational methods, enabling better skill improvement. Utilizing these methods can be highly beneficial for educational facilities and commercial organizations, improving their performance and learners’ satisfaction. Further, we’ll see how you can do this.

Hybrid learning vs. blended learning

Let’s explore the blended and hybrid learning types, which are often posed into a single category and even used interchangeably in various articles and speeches. Often one type of learning is also presented as the subtype of the other, which is also not quite clear: rather, they have many similar moments, but serve different purposes. That’s why we don’t pose blended learning among the types above. Let’s discuss it more widely here.
Blended education is highly useful in cases when a teacher or company’s management decides to teach something offline but wants to utilize online learning benefits, too. Therefore, most of the practical lessons, seminars, and final tasks are conducted offline, while learners have access to a wide base of online materials and quizzes. So, hybrid distance learning uses a combination of online and offline activities, while blended learning distributes them based on relevance. Most of the education is conducted offline, either in the classroom or during work, while online elements are introduced in the form of video lectures, online books, infographics, and online tasks.
Hybrid e-learning can be greatly beneficial for educational facilities, enabling the usage of educational technologies and practices that don’t require physical presence. Blended learning is mostly used by businesses, as they benefit from educating employees during work, using various online materials, and combining them with offline practice.
Difference between hybrid and blended learning
Let’s now explore the hybrid and blended learning meaning to see their similarities and differences, and also evaluate when to use each of these approaches.

Hybrid learning is the broad term for combining two learning styles. It includes schedules with online and offline educational activities, divided according to the chosen learning model. During blended learning, students study theoretical material online while completing practical tasks offline, and the learning is connected with the offline environment.

The task of hybrid learning is to divide the curriculum on online and offline educational activities based on convenience, conditions, and other reasons. In contrast, the task of blended learning is to implement online educational methods and its benefits into learning environment while still conducting the primary activities offline.

So, hybrid learning has many crossings with blended learning, but it’s important to distinguish them in order to use them properly. See the table below to summarize how they’re different and use it to plan your own educational activities.
  • Hybrid learning

    Is a broad term for combining online and offline learning activities.

    Is used by various schools and universities to ensure the best learning environment and experience.

    Focuses on providing the best combination of online and offline activities.
  • Blended learning

    Is a term for combining online learning capacities with offline learning practice.

    Is used by businesses to combine learning with work and by educational facilities focused on practical tasks.

    Focuses on providing the rich online knowledge base for theoretical learning while conducting practical tasks offline.

Best practices for hybrid learning

So, how to implement the best hybrid learning model in your classroom or workplace?

First, evaluate which model to choose. Will it be synchronous or asynchronous learning? Which part of learning path can be passed online and which tasks can be conducted online? Which tasks and other activities should obligately be offline, and which you believe should be preferably offline, such as periodical meetings? Construct your hybrid model based on your answers and test it by engaging your students or employees into it and gathering their feedback.

Next, to identify the hybrid learning best practices for you, you need to assess the environment for your education and let’s see several questions that will clarify it for you.
  • Which type of learning environment
    do you need to create? Is it a self-education, university, school, or corporate learning?
  • Who are your students?
    Are they childrens, teens, or adults?
  • What do you need
    to teach and study? Are there practical engineering skills, design, coding, or fundamental science concepts?
Answers will show you the learning environment specifics, the portrait of your student, and a set of skills and concepts that should be taught. It’ll be enough to choose the right learning material, involve teachers and mentors, and plan your curriculum.

Lastly, let’s see some hybrid learning examples to explore how various organizations implement this approach in practice. There are various use cases and studies in business and classroom education, such as the article of Hwang about business and management education or research about the hybrid education implementation in France national schools. It was also implemented widely in construction engineering education in the United States, and there is a research article from Iowa State University, exploring the implementation specifics and results.

While the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end, many employees and students are happy to learn from home and go offline only when there is really a need. Taking all hybrid learning benefits, it’s no wonder. Instead of trying to drive them back offline, it’s much better to implement online education elements, grasping all its rich opportunities and building an efficient learning environment.

Let’s explore how you can do this with learning management software!

How to choose a hybrid learning management system

To implement it in your environment, you need a hybrid learning platform that will fulfill all your needs.
  • Simple communication messengers + office suits
    while being a very simple option, can still be viable in case of self-learning or personal mentorship.
  • Virtual classrooms
    such as Google Classroom, are good for student groups and personal teaching. In the case of scientific or social disciplines, from physics to philosophy, such platforms enable a teacher to connect the learning group, assign and check tasks, and help students to keep pace and understand the material.
  • Learning management systems (LMSs)
    are the most advanced option, enabling you to plan your educational plan thoroughly and implement it seamlessly. They can serve as hybrid learning programs and fulfill many other project management tasks, being especially useful for business education.
It depends on your preferences and environment, which option to select and use, so let’s talk more about it. Answering questions regarding which hybrid education model to use is also crucial here. For example, the first option is ideal for self-education, as it requires no costs and almost no effort, just plain communication and note-making to reinforce the knowledge. The second option is good for independent learning groups and self-learning teams who want to improve their knowledge. They are best suited for academic purposes when students need to learn some fundamental scientific or social concepts.

The third option, a professional learning management system, should be seriously considered by businesses and large academic institutions, as they can greatly optimize all their processes. In addition to connecting learners and providing an interface for task checking, they also enable project management features, such as task planning and work tracking. Many of them also have various motivational and engaging elements, such as interactive learning journeys and reward systems, which are essential here to avoid detachment and isolation.

So, let’s explore hybrid learning software to see how they fulfill the mission of education.

Top 5 hybrid learning systems

Hybrid learning tools that we’ll present here include only the learning management systems category, as the most full and professional solutions. They are different in the number of features, accessibility, and pricing and such differences determine which one to choose for each usage case. Let’s evaluate five examples shortly and summarize which tasks each suits best.
is based on mobile education with high interactivity and task planning for connecting the learning process with work activities. Our tool is the best for those who want high integration with work processes using a mobile app.
enables advanced AI-based features of content generation and learner analysis. It’s good for knowledge-intensive companies that require such advanced features.
provides virtual classrooms with feedback options and learning process organization. It is good for various educational facilities and small to middle businesses, usually those focused on content creation and sales.
Docebo Learning Suite
focuses on managing a lot of learning paths and workflows and also provides various additional services for content management and generation. So, it’s ideal for large, complex corporations and holdings.
is a free option, so its basic functionality can be installed and used without any costs. Thus, it’s good for non-profits and self-learning groups.
To understand which hybrid learning solutions are the best for you, check your answers to all the questions above, so you can identify which problems you need to solve and choose the LMS for that.

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