Blended learning is the combination of traditional analog education with modern digital technologies. In its broadest sense, blended learning is the integration of auxiliary hardware and software such as computer labs, interactive whiteboards and educational software into the learning process.
One of the best definitions of hybrid learning is as follows:
A teaching approach based on the teacher explaining the lesson to students both face-to-face and online at the same time. Therefore, hybrid learning is part of a broader approach, blended learning. Besides this definition, there is a surprising number of competing definitions, even in other highly respected sources.
Is hybrid learning blended learning? If the answer is yes, why do we use different terms for the two? If the answer is no, what makes them different? How many different definitions of hybrid learning are there? This concept is still so new that there is little consensus even among experts.
However, after much research and thought, we will clarify a viable definition for hybrid learning and how it differs from blended learning.
What is Blended Learning?
Blended learning is the combination of traditional analog education with modern digital technologies. In its broadest sense, blended learning is the integration of auxiliary hardware and software such as computer labs, interactive whiteboards and educational software into the learning process. Often, however, blended learning is used to refer to a more recent practice of incorporating self-study online to supplement classroom lessons.
What is Hybrid Learning?
Hybrid learning is the name given to the practice of teaching both face-to-face and online at the same time. It is a type of blended learning that focuses on combining the physical classroom and virtual learning spaces closer together into a more complete education. In other words, hybrid learning is a form of synchronized learning that takes place both physically and remotely at the same time.
Other Definitions of Hybrid Learning
Since hybrid learning is a relatively new term, “What is hybrid learning?” There is no consensus yet when asked, so it can be very confusing to determine what individuals or institutions mean by the term.
Face to face and Online
A common phrase that emerges is that hybrid learning “overlaps” with blended learning. The main difference in this case is that hybrid learning focuses on both face-to-face and online learning.
Another way to define hybrid learning is that hybrid learning is a pedagogy or teaching strategy rather than a set of processes or procedures. Therefore, hybrid learning represents an ideology that provides the basis for a wide variety of teaching strategies under the umbrella of blended learning.
While Blended Learning defines an application or process, Hybrid Learning is a methodological approach that helps define a number of different applications and processes. Blended Learning is tactical while Hybrid Learning is strategic
Some sources see the hybrid learning approach as a point in the spectrum of technological advances that can be adopted. The range of development followed by this definition generally follows the following main points:
- Only face-to-face lessons based on traditional teaching methods. These methods may include some technologies, but they will primarily be with devices mounted in a physical classroom.
- Blended learning is a model that uses online learning to support classroom teaching, but still primarily relies on teachers and students being physically in the classroom for most of the teaching time.
- Hybrid learning, on the other hand, describes an educational model in which students spend half their time learning online and the remaining half learning in the physical classroom.
- Online only refers to a course that is completely online.
Hybrid Learning as a Synonym
Even more confusing, many respected organizations, from the Online Learning Consortium to the United States Department of Education, treat blended learning and hybrid learning as the same thing.
How Is Hybrid Learning Different From Blended Learning?
With all the confusion about the definition of hybrid learning and its relationship to blended learning, it is important to identify how they differ. Our understanding is a matter of scope, although some experts see these concepts as synonymous or otherwise equivalent.
Blended learning encompasses all education that combines digital technologies, especially web-based learning tools. Hybrid learning specifically refers to synchronized lessons taught simultaneously live and remotely.
This means that hybrid learning is part of the blended learning approach as a comprehensive subject that includes methodologies such as flipped classrooms and scale-up. In other words, all hybrid learning is blended learning, but not all blended learning is hybrid learning.
Why Is Hybrid Learning So Important?
Hybrid learning will be part of the educational landscape of the future, as we mentioned earlier. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, educators have realized that a certain amount of flexibility is needed both now and in the future.
Face-to-face teaching will continue to be an important part of education for the foreseeable future. We clearly see the need to create multiple channels to respond to the disruptions that effective education can suffer not only in extreme conditions such as a global catastrophe, but also in everyday life. Hybrid teaching not only makes learning more accessible to people with diverse abilities, it also allows educators to access remote areas, helps students stay connected during extended absences, and introduces educators and students alike to the latest communication technologies.
EdTech and hybrid learning will become part of a holistic education approach as other effective education practices continue to grow and evolve. Hybrid learning and broader blended learning have been referred to as emergency measures in the past and in the context of the epidemic, but they are likely to become pillars of teaching and learning in the years to come.
However, given how recently hybrid learning has come onto the scene, it is understandably still difficult to predict exactly what this transformation entails.