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The Difference Between Blended and Hybrid Learning, and When to Add it to Corporate Training

The COVID-19 crisis caught the world off guard. And yet, if anything can be learned from it, it’s that organizations always need to be prepared for any change in situation. How so? It is important to Integrate blended and/or hybrid learning models into existing curriculum proactively to build in the flexibility to manage change. Not sure whether to choose a blended or hybrid learning model? Read on.

The Difference Between Hybrid and Blended Learning

The terms are often used interchangeably because both types have two methods in common: synchronous and asynchronous learning. Synchronous learning is real-time instruction with a group of learners, whereas asynchronous learning is done at the learner’s pace. 

Because synchronous and asynchronous learning are utilized in both methods, blended learning is often confused with hybrid learning. The two approaches, however, are subtly different. 

The hybrid learning model is a fusion of two types of learners: remote and in-person. Hybrid instructors teach all learners at the same time, utilizing video conference technology. For example, let’s say 20 employees are required to take a mandatory corporate compliance course. Ten employees choose to take the course remotely, while the other ten employees choose to attend the course in-person.

This type of model is especially helpful in situations (like global pandemics). Employees feel safer learning remotely or have geographical constraints. Other employees may be more comfortable learning in a group setting and prefer the interactivity.

The blended learning model mixes online learning activities with in-person instruction. Each learner participates in both remote and on-site learning activities. For example, FGH Bank is tasked with training 75 new bank tellers. The bank is behind schedule in training activities due to the pandemic but is cognitive of employee safety. FGH opts to create a blended training course where all course material and exams are completed online, but customer role-plays are done in the classroom via in-person instruction. 

This type of model is particularly useful for companies who want to exhibit caution in crises yet still need to fulfill corporate obligations and goals.

More on the Hybrid Learning Model 

As previously mentioned, hybrid instructors deliver live instructions to both in-person and remote learners. This method, naturally, is not without its challenges. Not only do instructors need a myriad of technology tools at their disposal, something that will be discussed in a moment, but the curriculum must cater to both types of learners. 

Some effective methods to use when developing a hybrid course include: 

  • Providing students with a core set of applications and software, e.g., setting up all course material via a learning management system (LMS) or requiring in-person students to bring a computer to class
  • Engaging all learners with fun group activities, e.g., scavenger hunts
  • Recording courses ahead of time for remote learners who may have connectivity/tech issues during class 
  • Utilizing interactive online tools to keep all students involved 

Some technology tools to consider for a hybrid course:

  • Online whiteboards to keep all students on pace during the lesson
  • Engaging all learners with fun group activities, e.g., a digital scavenger hunt
  • Google Docs, Google Jamboard, and Microsoft Word to use for collaborative writing or brainstorming sessions
  • Kahoot!, Quizlet Live, Quiziz, and Mentimeter Quiz for fun, competitive quizzes
  • Learning Management Systems (LMS) as a sole location for class recordings and class materials

More on the Blended Learning Model

As previously mentioned, the blended learning model includes both online learning and in-person learning. Although it doesn’t have to accommodate two types of learners like hybrid, it is complicated in its own way as there are multiple sub-models to choose from. The primary sub-models of blended learning include:

  • The “Flipped” model. This is where learners are introduced to the curriculum’s content ahead of class then learn more about the content via face-to-face instruction. 
  • The “Online Driver” model. This model has learners completing most of the course online with a sprinkling of in-person activities like project work or lectures throughout the course. 
  • The “Face-To-Face” Driver model. This model is online instruction heavy but frequently utilizes live instructors or Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to deliver crucial content. Pre- and post-activities are carried out via online self-pacing. 

Some things to consider when developing a blended model learning experience:

  • Identify the virtual pieces that best suit the course, such as learning videos, podcasts, infographics, simulations, etc.
  • Create activities that retain and engage learners
  • Look carefully at each method – remote vs. in-person –  to determine what would best suits your curriculum

The recommended technology for the blended model is similar to the hybrid model. Your organization likely has already determined the technology that may be integrated with your systems.

Finally, if you could use additional information regarding when and how to convert your content to a blended or hybrid learning model, we can help. Please contact the team at AllenComm to schedule a consultation.

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