Always Learning Blog

Back to All Posts
Learning

Hybrid vs. Blended Learning: A Definitive Guide

As a B2B business, you want your employees to continually serve your office with greater efficiency. Encouraging this kind of constant development isn’t always easy, though. Not only can it be complicated to schedule employee development workshops, but your team members’ preferred methods of engagement may make it difficult for them to take new lessons to heart.

This is where hybrid and blended learning techniques come into play. Both of these techniques use digital technologies to your company’s advantage. Distinguishing between them, however, can be complicated, given their inherent overlap.

Don’t let the hybrid vs. blended learning debate overwhelm you. When you explore hybrid and blending learning differences, you'll find that there are inherent benefits to each training method. Determining which might suit your workplace best, however, will depend on your ambitions, as well as your company’s culture.

What is Hybrid Learning?

Hybrid learning prizes individuality in the workplace. Employees that attend training sessions, consultations, or other internal growth programs that take advantage of hybrid learning have the choice to attend in-person or digitally. 

Parties that lead the applicable workshops do not provide supplementary materials to employees that attend digitally. Instead, the workshop occurs synchronously so that employees at home or in person can learn the same lessons within the same time frame.

With that being said, the materials that are used to engage employees via hybrid learning don’t disappear after a talk is complete. Employees that work from home may have the opportunity to view a workshop or talk at a later date, courtesy of a recorded video playback. 

Similarly, employees who are busy during a workshop may view the playback once their schedule opens up. These employees, however, will not have the opportunity to engage with their peers regarding materials as readily as they would if they attend the synchronous workshop.

Hybrid learning, then, aims to encourage the development of an office community and experience, regardless of the ways that employees work. This engagement method provides an element of flexibility to the workplace, too, so that employees can continue to benefit from training sessions long after a workshop or training has ended. 

Benefits of Hybrid Learning

The benefits of hybrid learning techniques in an office include:

Increased Flexibility

The recent rise in work-from-home habits has made office spaces more flexible. An employee’s hours can vary based on their at-home commitments so long as they continue to effectively contribute to the productivity of their company.

Hybrid learning techniques allow you to take this flexibility one step further. While hybrid learning workshops take place synchronously, their digital elements allow interested parties to engage with content from anywhere in the world. Employee development conducted via hybrid learning programs, then, is the natural next step after an office increases remote employment.

Freedom of Development

No two people in your office have the same learning style. Some people thrive when they have the chance to work side by side with other people. Others prefer to spend their working hours on their own. 

If you choose to utilize hybrid learning techniques in your office, you can encourage both of these types of employees -- and those that fall in the middle of the spectrum -- to thrive.

Self-sufficient employees that prefer to work on their own can revisit any applicable workshops, lectures, or meetings on their own time, even while engaging in community learning during synchronous hybrid workshops. 

Similarly, community-oriented teams can take advantage of a hybrid workshop’s in-person learning opportunities to connect to their peers.

Efficient Use of Company Means

Everyone has attended a meeting that could have been an email at least once. It can be frustrating, in some circumstances, to feel as though you have to attend in-person meetings when you already have a substantial amount of work on your plate.

Hybrid learning techniques in the office eliminate some of this wasted time. Parties that are interested in attending educational workshops or meetings can do so no matter where they are in the world, eliminating the need for multiple meetings regarding the same topics.

Integrating Hybrid Learning at Work

One of the core qualities of hybrid learning is its flexibility. As such, establishing a firm hybrid learning technique can be a tricky ordeal. If you’re interested in integrating hybrid learning techniques into your office’s day-to-day, then you’ll first need to assess your goals for the program and the needs of your employees.

To make your office more hybrid-learning friendly, you can:

Outline Your Achievement Goals

Before you start rolling out any changes in your office, determine what your hybrid learning goals are. Do you want employees to engage with learning workshops more often? Are you looking to integrate remote employees into your in-person office space? 

Put those goals down on paper and check with your team to make sure that they’re realistic. Once you know what kind of ambitions you’re aiming to achieve, you can more adequately implement hybrid learning changes to suit your needs.

Establish Your Event Calendar

Once you have your goals in mind, establish a calendar of the training events you want to hold. Determine which kinds of speakers you want to bring into your office and what meetings will be mandatory for each of your teams. 

If you’re able to look back to an event calendar, you can more adequately gather the tools you’ll need to increase in-person and remote attendance.

Distinguish Between In-Person and Distance Events

If there are certain events that would benefit from in-person attendance, mark those down. Similarly, if there are events on your calendar that may require remote attendance, either on the part of a speaker or the bulk of your office, make an additional note. 

While you’ll want to remain as flexible as possible, in terms of your calendar, you can always note that certain learning events may be more efficient if attended one way or another.

Create a Shared Space for Essential Content

Most office learning events require specialized content. In turn, you’ll need a place to host content for long-term access. 

Before you introduce your office to a new hybrid learning program, get this space up and running. That way, all of your employees can access asynchronous content as well as any handouts that may go astray after in-person attendance.

Test Your Program

You don’t have to kick off hybrid learning integration throughout your entire office. Instead, as you’re getting started, consider reaching out to a test group. 

Bring fifty people into your program and have them attend a series of trainings or workshops. You can subsequently alter your widespread plan integration based on the reactions your test subjects have to your existing content.

Don’t Fear Failure

Integrating any new method of communication into your day-to-day schedule can be a challenge. Getting dozens -- if not hundreds -- of employees on board with a new program is often even harder. 

With this in mind, don’t be afraid of hybrid learning failures. As you integrate this new form of engagement, be flexible. Alter your methods as necessary to better suit the needs of your employees. 

Engage with your team, too, and make sure to ask for feedback as the program rolls out. The more you’re able to learn about the needs of your office, the easier it will be for you to make changes to your burgeoning learning program.

What is Blended Learning?

When they are exploring hybrid and blended learning differences, many employers may struggle to distinguish between the two. Blended learning is, however, in many ways a facet of hybrid learning. Hybrid learning, to put it another way, can include blended learning. Blended learning, however, tends to offer greater flexibility than hybrid learning.

All forms of blended learning -- and there are many -- involve a digital element. If you’ve had your employees attend a digital workshop or training, then you’ve already integrated blended learning techniques into your day-to-day office life. 

However, widespread blended learning techniques allow your employees to access essential and supplementary training materials at their own pace.

In this way, blended learning is a self-guided process. While blended learning programs can include in-person workshops and synchronous learning, they more often involve self-guided lessons on workplace etiquette, floor training, and more. 

Employees are encouraged to complete this training by a particular deadline, but on their own schedules. In this way, employees are said to be able to dedicate their full attention to essential workplace training, as they have more control over their schedules. 

Benefits of Blended Learning Integration in the Workplace

The primary selling point of blended learning for most offices is its incredible flexibility. If you have employees based all around the world, it better suits their productivity to be able to access essential training materials on their own timeframes. Other benefits include:

Increased Employee Training Comprehension

Everyone works on their own schedules, whether they work remotely or in an office. Some employees are going to be the most efficient in the early morning. Others will see the greatest output of work closer to the end of the day. 

If you want to encourage this kind of output on a consistent basis, especially during long stretches of training, it’s in your best interests to let employees work when they feel most engaged. 

One of the key hybrid and blended learning differences is that blended learning allows your team to do just that. Because blended learning techniques give your team the ability to access materials from anywhere in the world at any time, your team can start learning new skills when they have the mental capacity to do so. 

If you allow your team this kind of flexibility, you’ll see greater returns on the lessons you share with them.

Training Tracking

Getting your employees to engage with new training programs can be a trial. Sometimes, the easiest way to encourage long-term engagement is to offer incentives for your new programs. However, letting your employees know that you can track their progress also tends to encourage greater and faster compliance with new programs.

Blended learning techniques make it easier for you to track training engagement due to their digital fluency. If you’re using a learning platform, for example, you’ll be able to determine how often employees engage with the training materials you’ve shared online. 

You’ll also be able to check up on employee exams and their subsequent success if you require any of your team members to take skill tests.

Get a Demo

Learn why modern companies choose Continu for their learning needs

Blended Learning Best Practices

The benefits of blended learning lie within its digital reach. Using that reach to your advantage, however, requires significant forethought. 

If you want to introduce your team to a new blended training program, sit down with a team of trusted peers and determine how best to build this kind of program from the ground up.

Some of the best practices to employ during program integration can include:

  • Expert consultations
  • Control group testing
  • Self-testing
  • Feedback sessions with the impacted team members

While hybrid and blended learning differences stem from their digital integration, the applications of each program can have a lot of overlap. Sometimes, you may even be able to find a marriage between the two, depending on the needs of individual employees. 

With this in mind, don’t feel disheartened if your initial program integration doesn’t pan out. You can always go back to the drawing board to further debate the hybrid vs. blended learning differences.

Hybrid vs. Blended Learning

The hybrid vs. blended learning debate rages for a variety of reasons. For starters, the two forms of learning are relatively similar at first glance. Both involve the integration of digital learning into your office space, and both allow employees to have varying levels of control over the rate at which they learn new skills.

The hybrid vs. blended learning debate should also bring the effectiveness of each learning method into question. If you want to optimize your day-to-day operations, you need to know which of these methods, if either, is going to help your employees learn new and necessary skills in a reasonable amount of time.

With this in mind, it’s important to distinguish between these forms of learning. Specifically:

  • Hybrid learning allows your employees to engage with training and development materials in person or digitally. These lessons usually occur synchronously. Lesson materials, however, can be accessed at an employee’s leisure.
  • Blended learning is a subset of hybrid learning. It occurs asynchronously and allows employees to learn at their own pace.

Both types of learning can involve in-person and digital elements. Blended learning, however, offers your employees greater freedom, especially in terms of scheduling.

Hybrid vs. Blended Learning:  Which is More Effective?

The effectiveness of these learning techniques will vary based on the kind of business you want to run. One learning method isn’t inherently more effective than the other. Instead, each learning technique is meant to suit a different type of management.

Consider this: In 2020, the number of employees working remotely skyrocketed due to rising health concerns. In 2021, fewer employees have returned to the office, citing the comforts of home, lack of a commute, and increased work flexibility as reasons to continue working from home. 

As such, many employers have had to consider which kinds of digital training they want to integrate into their day-to-day operations. 

The factors that most impact the efficiency of digital and in-person training subsequent become:

Location

Hybrid learning, which requires synchronous attendance to most training events, is ideal for employers who have employees operating within shared time zones. While there can be some variation therein, these events tend to be the most successful when teams can attend them all within traditional working hours.

Blended learning, comparatively, allows employees all around the world to engage with essential training on their own schedule. As such, it becomes more efficient for companies with a widespread employee base to allow their teams to access essential materials around the clock.

Community Engagement

Not every business requires its employees to collaborate. While there may be some forms of interaction between teams, different subsets of your business may function best when they are left to their own devices. In these cases, a blended learning method may serve your team best.

If your business thrives when your team members work together, you may want to integrate hybrid learning techniques into your daily operations. These methods tend to serve in-lesson communication best, as most employees have to attend work events at the same time.

Individualism in Hybrid vs. Blended Learning Programs

Note that hybrid and blended learning differences often hinge on the self-sufficiency of your employees. If you notice that your team members aren’t engaging as successfully with a blended learning program, don’t hesitate to swap over to a hybrid program. 

A hybrid program may guide some of your reticent employees through the necessary training. Blended learning programs, comparatively, may better suit highly individualized teams.

A Note on Hybrid vs. Blended Learning Program Flexibility

Note again that hybrid and blended learning differences tend to center around each program’s flexibility. Both programs, however, are most effective when you, too, are flexible with your ambitions. 

While you can have an overarching goal that you’d like a blended or hybrid learning program to help you reach, keep your smaller goals fluid. As you learn more about your team’s preferred training methods, you’ll be able to alter your materials, calendar, and best practices to ensure greater employee engagement.

Building a Development-Minded Office Space

Breaking through the hybrid vs. blended learning debate can be a challenge. Both employee training methods hold water, though, especially in the age of increased remote learning. Determining which method suits your office best depends entirely on your ambitions, your employee base, and your digital reach.

Want to make it easier for your team to learn on the go? Consider using a learning platform to make hybrid and blended learning integration simpler. Today’s learning platforms can help you store essential training materials, encourage synchronous or asynchronous engagement, and track your employees’ progress with existing programs.

Related Posts

Here’s how to bring Continu to your organization today.

Let us know your requirements
Get a personalized demo of Continu
Say hello to your Learning Amplification Platform™