April 20, 2022

What is the difference between hybrid and blended learning?

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As remote and hybrid work grows across organizations, employers increasingly utilize hybrid learning models and blended learning techniques for workplace development. These techniques are being practiced in the work sphere as a more efficient and cost-effective approach to corporate training. This shift in workplace learning is expected to stick around as employees continue to look for flexible work options and professional development opportunities.

Understanding the difference between hybrid and blended learning models

As a result of improved technology and the COVID-19 pandemic, corporate use of virtual learning is more prevalent than ever. With the variety of learning models and options available to organizations, understanding the differences, benefits, or drawbacks is important to consider. For example, blended and hybrid approaches may be an effective way to improve your employees’ or trainees’ learning experience.

What’s the difference? It’s a nuanced, yet significant difference. A hybrid learning environment utilizes online interactions to replace certain aspects of physical training by employing interactive, virtual components. On the other hand, a blended learning model incorporates both online and in-person instruction, allowing the two elements to complement each other for more effective results.

Blended Learning Ven Diagram

Using onboarding training as an example, the difference should become clearer. In hybrid learning, you may take what was typically an in-person onboarding process and completely bring it into a virtual environment like a learning management system (LMS). Training sessions, assessments, documentation, etc. are all completed virtually. In a blended learning onboarding experience, however, you may have some in-person training sessions but your process also includes some virtual training modules and an online assessment that complement the in-person experience.

To wrap it up–the main difference is that blended learning emphasizes in-person training with complimentary online components and a hybrid learning model replaces elements of in-person learning for a more flexible, individualized experience.

The benefits of blended learning over traditional corporate training

Before the hybrid learning model and blended learning techniques gained recognition, instructor-led training was the standard for employee development. A number of organizations still utilizes this method for the benefit of real-time interaction and discussion. However, statistics highlighted by Forbes found eLearning boosts retention rates by up to 60%, compared to retention rates of up to 10% with traditional training.

Organizations have found the advantages of implementing physical and digital learning aspects to be fundamental to consider.

The benefits of blended and hybrid learning
  • More cost-effective
  • More time-efficient
  • Increases the effectiveness of corporate training
  • Offers employees flexibility in their schedule
  • Offers the company scalability for corporate training
  • Increases accessibility

Implementing hybrid and blended learning into the workplace

According to a 2021 report from TechJury, the worldwide eLearning market is projected to be worth $325 billion in 2025, so it’s clear this type of learning environment will endure long-term. Implementing blended learning techniques successfully in the workplace involves using a variety of the learning tools available to you. For example, a blended learning approach involves both traditional learning and digital methods to increase training effectiveness, as the concepts learned remotely can be reinforced in physical settings.

Digital learning implementation also involves accessibility and personalization for employees. This opportunity for an individualized learning style and self-paced professional development is highly valuable for employee morale, engagement and retention. The most significant factor to consider when utilizing online learning is choosing the most suitable option for your organization. Hybrid learning and blended learning are both expected to see growth, but an organization's industry and internal structures can help determine the proper learning model to utilize for the most effective training.

Utilizing new technologies as learning models shift

Why is this important? Businesses are progressively adopting digital learning models as remote work becomes commonplace and employees desire more flexibility and opportunities for professional development. A 2021 Upwork study on the future workforce predicts 40.7 million American professionals, or 28% of workers, will be fully remote in the next five years. The rise of work-from-home options and the implementation of new technology have shifted the corporate learning experience to find the proper balance between hybrid, blended and remote learning. This often involves using an LMS, so practicing distance learning and finding the balance between learning methods is simplified and training is more effective.

Implementing an LMS for more effective learning

With the multitude of technology options available on the market, it can feel overwhelming to understand what will make employee training most effective. But, with an LMS, this process can be optimized and streamlined as these systems administer, document, track, report, automate and deliver learning programs and course content.

An LMS is a valuable tool that can be utilized in both blended and hybrid learning environments that are cost-effective and time-efficient and easily accessible. This course content accessibility offers a level of flexibility in learning that employees highly desire. These workers are able to learn at their own pace with more individualized learning plans, but they have access to these materials and any learning activity whenever they are needed.

Organizations quickly realize the benefits of employing these systems for online learning, highlighted in a report from FinancesOnline that found 58% of employees prefer self-paced learning and 41.7% of companies save training costs by using an LMS. Moreover, ShareKnowledge reports approximately 83% of organizations currently use an LMS for online teaching and active learning, while TrustRadius found 77% of learners feel their LMS had a positive impact on satisfaction and productivity.

Employees prefer self-paced learning

58%

of employees prefer self-paced learning.

Save training costs

41.7%

of companies save training costs by using an LMS.

83% of organizations currently use an LMS.

83%

of organizations currently use an LMS.

Positive impact

77%

of learners feel their LMS had a positive impact.

While the use of LMSs for corporate learning increases, what’s most significant to note is the need for companies to offer more flexible, personalized and accessible learning solutions moving forward. Employees want opportunities to learn but value a customized and readily-available solution that is most effective for them.

These advances in educational technology have made a blended learning environment and hybrid learning more accessible and applicable than ever. As these learning technologies continue to see major growth in the coming years, organizations have the opportunity to utilize them in conjunction with different learning models for more efficient and individualized employee training.

Learn more about Absorb LMS's blended learning solutions and see it in action with a free trial today.

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