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Hybrid learning vs blended learning: What is the difference and why does it matter?

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Blended learning and hybrid learning are becoming increasingly popular in higher education settings, but the right option depends on the specific needs for the organization and the needs of students.

Blended learning and hybrid learning both offer similar online learning solutions but there are a few key differences to consider that define the two types of learning.

What is blended learning?

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Blended learning offers a blend of face-to-face teaching and online resources. Students can interact in a traditional classroom setting which offers face-to-face instruction while other learning activities are available online for them to complete at their own pace in a similar way to virtual learning.

Blended learning caters to different types of student learning styles, and there are various models such as the flipped classroom model where students use online resources for completing coursework and information transfer, whilst the classroom is used for more experiential activities in a bid to foster deeper learning.

Pros and cons of blended learning

Blended learning offers a number of pros and cons that should be considered before implementing this type of approach.

Pros of blended learning

Increased course personalization

A significant benefit of blended learning is the enhanced degree of personalisation it can offer. Using virtual learning resources not only means that the lecturer can post relevant articles or guidance in real-time, but it also means that a wider range of learning styles are accommodated.

Findings from the Honey and Mumford model, show that this combination of online learning and classroom-based learning meets most needs. Those who need the interaction and pragmatic elements of learning are catered for in-person, whilst the theorists and reflectors can absorb and understand at a more measured pace.

Flexible learning style

StudentInLecture

Blended learning also offers greater potential for flexibility in a similar way to virtual learning. Whilst the core content will remain the same, the method of teaching can be adapted to meet the needs of the learner.

This may be based on elements such as the learning styles mentioned above or may be built around more practical concerns such as accessibility. Any student who struggles to get to campus for any reason is not tied to face-to-face teaching and can complete their studies online. This is something that organizations can seek to maintain, in order to improve accessibility for those with physical or economic barriers that impede access to traditional learning.

More cost-effective

Blended learning offers a more cost-effective solution for higher education organizations. No longer having to accommodate large numbers of students in lecture halls or computer labs with resources easily accessed without the need for printing or course books means that a blended learning approach has become increasingly popular since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The increase in time efficiency is appealing to students and teachers alike, with more time being focused on learning and interaction, rather than practical organisation and distribution of materials.

Learn more about the benefits of blended learning by reading our guide.

Cons of blended learning

As with anything, are a few downsides to this approach:

Availability of technology

The obstacle to a blended learning approach is the availability of technology for both students and universities. Investment needs to be made to provide organizations with the technology required to deliver course content online, as well as ensuring that students have access to adequate devices. Organizations will need to ensure that the systems available can handle an influx of online traffic, as well as future proofing for further technological development.

You can find out more about the challenges presented by a blended learning approach by reading our guide.

What is hybrid learning?

The terms hybrid and blended learning are often used interchangeably. Whilst this is correct in that both methods use a combination of in-person and online teaching, there are some key differences to understand when assessing each of the approaches.

A hybrid learning model uses video conferencing to teach two sets of students at the same time – online/distance learners and in-person learners. However, this doesn’t mean that hybrid learning confines students to a dry lecture-style classroom setting as this type of learning environment can be adapted to allow for interactive exercises as well as traditional information transfer.

Pros and cons of hybrid learning

StudentLearningAtHome

Hybrid learning offers a number of benefits for both students and organizations, including

Adaptable learning approach

Hybrid learning provides a flexible learning approach that allows for a course to developed and adapted to meet the needs of the students and, of course, the subject. Discussion and debate are a key part of learning, and a hybrid learning method makes this possible.

This approach also allows for a range of learning styles to be accommodated and puts students in control of how they want to experience their education.

More efficient use of resources

Alongside this flexibility, the benefit of more efficient use of resources also comes to the fore. not only are the practical resources controlled, but the time constraints also involved in travelling to and from the classroom are mitigated. The combination of a more bespoke experience, and a simplification of the practicalities of learning means higher education can have a wider reach.

Cons of hybrid learning

The main challenge of hybrid learning is to design a learning experience that works for both groups. It’s essential for organizations to meet the needs of both online and students who attend in-person classes and maintaining high quality for both can be a challenge

The differences between blended and hybrid learning

As discussed above, the terms blended and hybrid learning are often used interchangeably, so having a good understanding of the differences is essential for effective assessment of each approach.

 

Blended learning

Hybrid learning

Style

Firm focus on incorporating distance and classroom learning into one package that meets the needs of students in an on and offline environment.

Focuses on synchronous delivery of the same content to groups of online and offline students

Delivery

Material is delivered to a single learning group, who consume supplied information through a variety of media. Traditional class-based learning is a key part and the online element is supplementary, rather than a replacement.

Any possible learning technique is used to teach the content and is adapted to meet both the needs of the subject and the needs of the learners.

Whichever approach is chosen, having the best software and technology available is essential for success. Solutions such as Software2’s AppsAnywhere offers students the ability to access resources and software from any device, in any location, at any time to accommodate distance learning.

Choosing the best technology means that higher education organizations can provide the best student experience and continuity of education, regardless of location and take advantage of the many benefits that come with implementing a blended or hybrid learning approach.

Contact our team at Software2 today to find out more.