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Hybrid Learning Definition & Meaning: What Businesses Need to Know

What Does Hybrid Learning Mean?

When planning new courses to train your employees you need to take into consideration the needs and abilities of your employees. Some may do better with online learning, some may do better with in-person interaction. Some may want something a little more self-paced, and some may need the discipline of in-person training to really engage with the content.

Your employees will have different levels of extroversion and introversion, tech literacy, self-discipline, synchronous vs asynchronous learning desires etc.

And your job as their employer or manager is to create training for them that sets them all up for success. This can be difficult depending on how many employees you have that need the training, and how much their learning needs and preferences differ.

That’s where something like hybrid learning can come in handy.

Hybrid learning is similar to blended learning, in that it combines aspects of in-person and virtual learning. However, where blended learning creates a blend, hybrid learning creates a choice. So make no mistake, they are different.

Definition of Hybrid Learning

By definition, hybrid learning is the combination of in-person and online learning, adjusted for what’s best for other individuals. Whether you prefer to do your learning entirely online or entirely traditionally, you can. And both types of employees can learn the way they prefer while still being a part of the same training course.

With hybrid learning, you can join the class physically, or watch it online as a web conference, recorded lecture, etc.

Some universities (pre-pandemic) had taken this on, in which certain courses had the option for students to attend in-person, or to watch the lectures from home, either live or at a later time.

Hybrid Learning vs Blended Learning

As mentioned previously, hybrid learning differs from blended learning, although both involve a combination of in-person and virtual learning. However, according to Leading Learning, the difference between the two is that hybrid learning includes the choice to do coursework in person, or online, whereas blended learning has learning done for everyone being trained both in-person and online.

The terms are at times referred to interchangeably, so keep in mind that for the purposes of this blog, we have differentiated between the two terms, as described above.

We’ve created a table below to outline some key differences between traditional, online, blended, and hybrid learning.

Features

Traditional Learning

Online Learning

Blended Learning

Hybrid Learning

Where Learning Happens

In a classroom/lecture hall (or otherwise physical setting)

Online

Online and in a physical setting

Online or in a physical setting (both available)

Example of Elements

Lectures, seminars, in-person demos, etc.

Webinars, web conferences, online readings, videos, modules, etc.

Lectures, seminars, in-person demos, webinars, web conferences, online readings, videos, modules, etc.

Lectures, seminars, in-person demos, webinars, web conferences, recorded lectures, etc.

Theoretical Example

University class that takes place in a lecture hall

Courses created using LMS platforms like Tovuti for employee training

Employee training where you are involved in a seminar and then have modules and readings to do online

Workplace training via a seminar that employees can travel to observe in-person or access a link to watch online

Meaning of Hybrid Learning in Employee Training

Teaching the hybrid learning model

But what does this combination mean for employee training? What do the differences from other types of learning, as outlined in the table, really mean? What does it look like to use hybrid learning for employee training?

It means in-person and online employee training would be offered coincidently; therefore, the instructor would need to have material prepared for those doing the course virtually and those doing the course in person. This could be, for instance (as listed as an example in the table above), instructors recording the lecture or seminars they’re delivering in-person so online workers can either stream it live, or have access to a recording to watch later, such as what the universities have been doing.

Using the hybrid learning definition to implement it is probably the easiest way to do it because it means instructors don’t need to come up with two versions of all their teachings. Instead, they just need to organize a recording of their lectures and a platform where they can be viewed.

Zoom, for instance, is a popular video conference application. Using Zoom, instructors’ lessons could be viewable for those who want to watch the training session live but online, and Zoom calls can be recorded so that you can provide the recording of the session to those who were unable to make it.

Now, obviously, there are still limits to this kind of learning. Depending on the Zoom plan you have, pricing will be different, you’ll be limited in minutes the call can last and/or the number of people able to join the call.

Specific LMS platforms will have video conferencing technology and/or virtual classrooms, or be able to be integrated with applications like Zoom. So if you have or are interested in getting an LMS, it can still be usable with this type of learning.

What Does Hybrid Learning Mean for Managers & Employees

What does hybrid learning mean for managers and employees? Now that we’ve created a general picture of what hybrid learning looks like for employee training, what about for the managers and employees specifically?

For managers, this means you would need to create or find instructors willing to teach courses that are available for those who want to interact with them in-person and virtually. This means that you would have to have access to both a virtual learning platform and a space for in-person training for your employees, plus potentially an instructor if you won’t be instructing yourself.

In terms of the effectiveness of hybrid learning for managers, well. Let’s look at some stats about the benefits of eLearning and employee training investment. 

  • According to eLearning Industry, IBM reports that it made $30 back for every dollar it spent on eLearning
  • According to Research.com, ‘well-established’ tech companies make up 30% of LMS users
  • The same article also reports that eLearning is used for training in the U.S. by 77% of organizations
  • According to a 2018 report by LinkedIn, 94% of employees would stay longer at companies that encouraged and backed their employee training and development

For your employees, it means they can choose to join in on the employee training without physically having to travel to the location where the instructor is teaching the course (assuming the training is not being hosted at your business). However, your employees could also choose to travel there if they felt that would be more beneficial. They can decide to attend in-person or online as they see fit for themselves and their learning processes. A hybrid learning course will probably cost money, either way, to cover the ability to teach in-person and online, if not created internally.

Regarding the effectiveness of hybrid learning for employees, let’s look at some eLearning and employee development stats here, too. 

  • According to the Brandon Hall Group's HCM Outlook Survey, as cited by eLearning Industry, eLearning can reduce the time it takes for employees to complete training by 40% to 60%
  • According to Research.com, 94% of online learners would rather learn at their own pace rather than synchronously
  • According to a 2018 report by LinkedIn, the majority of employees still prefer to learn at work at 68% (although keep in mind this was pre-pandemic)
  • According to The Research Institute of America, as cited by Shift eLearning, retention rates can increase between 25% and 60% with eLearning. 

Examples That Define Hybrid Learning

hybrid learning from an instructor online

Now that you understand that example of hybrid learning, let’s run through a few more.

Other examples of hybrid learning include

  • Lectures available in-person and to stream
  • Lectures available in-person and as a recording
  • Seminars available as in-person seminars and webinars
  • In-person demos that have been recorded as a video and can be dispersed after the fact
  • Conferences that have video conference options available

These examples have been elaborated on in the table below.

Example

Elaboration

How It Can Be Applied

Lectures available in-person and to stream

Training lectures or presentations explaining new products, methods, information, etc, can be presented in person, but have an option to stream live for those who are unable to attend in-person

A company releasing a new product can announce it to employees by having an in-person training session, but also streaming it those unable to attend using Zoom (followed up later by more individual training),

Lectures available in-person and as a recording

Training lectures or presentations explaining new products, methods, information, etc, can be presented in person, but are also being recorded so it can be sent to those who are unable to attend (although they’d be unable to ask any questions)

New training has been mandated for the salespeople in a company. Unfortunately, the training isn’t being held through the company, and not all the outside salespeople are able to attend (at least not all sessions). Luckily, the training session is being recorded and will be emailed to those who weren’t able to attend

Seminars available as in-person seminars and webinars

A seminar or presentation explaining new products, methods, information, etc., can be presented in-person, but also as a webinar so those attending in-person and online are equally able to participate

Seminars training small groups of workers on new technology that will be implemented as the standard in their industry have options available so employees can join in-person or online groups

In-person demos that have been recorded as a video and can be dispersed after the fact

A demo explaining new products, methods, information, etc, can be presented in-person, but also as a recording so those unable to attend are also able to watch the demo (although they’d be unable to contribute any questions)

Demos training workers on new technology that will be implemented as the standard in their industry has options to view the demo in-person, where they may be able to contribute, or as a recording later where they can pause and rewatch footage as necessary

Conferences that have video conference options available

Conferences have events being held in-person and online to learn the same information

A conference being held about the newest up and coming industry fad has in-person and online events set up that cover the same topics

Hybrid Learning Model Meaning

learning the definition of hybrid learning

A hybrid learning model is a framework in which a business implements hybrid learning. With the hybrid learning definition we’ve established, hybrid learning doesn’t have many formal models like, say, blended learning does. However, you can implement a framework for the hybrid learning definition (and the learning itself) as you see fit for your business and employees. 

As the examples we’ve listed above suggest, there are many ways you could use a hybrid learning model for corporate training. And there are even more ways than those listed. The only limitations are your creativity, and what’s practical to your business. 

How to Transition Your Corporate Training & Development to a Hybrid Model

If you’ve made it this far, we can only assume we’ve got your attention. You’re interested in hybrid learning and the meaning of hybrid learning for your business.

If you’re looking to transition your corporate training and development to a hybrid model, it will differ depending on the needs of your specific industry, company, and employees. But, here are some general steps you can take.

Consider the needs for training:

What currently, or in the future, do you need to train your employees on? Do different employees and job positions require different training and knowledge? Are you looking to expand your business? Do you currently have updated training packages for onboarding new employees? These are the types of questions you need to be asking (and answering) to understand your training needs.

Consider the needs of your employees:

What do your employees need training on (see step 1)? How best do your employees learn? How tech literate are they (individually and as a whole)? How much time do they have in their schedule for training? How many schedules can be coordinated for training simultaneously, vs how many would have to train in their own time? What abilities do they have to travel?  Would your business cover travel costs? Do you have room in the budget for that? These are the types of questions you need to be asking (and answering), so you can figure out the best way to train your employees on an individual level and as a whole.

Consider the reasons why hybrid learning would be a better fit for you:

If you’re trying to decide the framework you should be applying to the hybrid learning definition you’re using for your business … you need to consider why you think hybrid learning would be the best fit for your business. Are there other forms of traditional or online learning you’ve already decided against, like eLearning, microlearning, blended learning, etc., and why? (Note: This isn’t a criticism of your choice. It’s just important to understand your own reasons for choosing something so you can extrapolate from there on how to apply it.)

Consider what resources you have available to you (and if there are any you’d want): 

Do you have a space for employees to gather for training? Do you have an LMS to create training modules, virtual classrooms, etc., or video conferencing technology to set up virtual meetings? The resources you have access to currently or are willing to purchase to gain access to will affect how you can create coursework around the hybrid learning definition.

Figure out pricing with your budget: 

If you don’t already have a budget for training, you’ll need to create one. According to go2HR, many large organizations put 2-5% of their salary budgets into training. And, according to a survey done in 2018 by Morneau Shepell Ltd and the Business Council of Canada, as cited by American Express, just over half of the companies spent over $1000/year on training per employee. Maybe these numbers are too big or too small to be reasonable for your business. Still, either way, you must have a budget for training your employees and use it when comparing and figuring out the costs of transitioning to the definition of hybrid learning. 

Decide what parameters you’ll be establishing around hybrid learning: 

Considering the previous transitional steps, think about what parameters you want and need to apply to your hybrid learning model. Maybe you don’t have a huge conference room and don’t have the funds in your budget to rent training space, so only a certain number of people can do the course in person. Or maybe you only have a certain number of Zoom participants who can join a meeting at a time; therefore, the online portion has a limit. Maybe you have several employees that can’t fit training at a certain time into their schedules, so you know the online portion of your training will need to be asynchronous learning

Decide whether you’ll be creating or finding your training sessions or courses: 

How company-specific is the training your employees need? Do you have the time to construct a course yourself? Do you have the time to learn how to use technology if necessary? Can you find hybrid learning options available outside of your company? Is creating a course or hiring an instructor more cost-effective? You’ll need to be answering these types of questions, so you know whether or not you’re going to need to invest time in creating courses or hiring someone to train your employees.

FAQ

hybrid learning frequently asked questions

How is the hybrid learning definition different from the blended learning definition?

Hybrid learning has been used interchangeably with blended learning, and you may come across it as such. However, we differentiate between the two by explaining hybrid learning as the choice between traditional and online learning and blended learning as the combination of traditional and online learning, as defined by Leading Learning.

Blended learning combines online and traditional learning for every trainee. In contrast, hybrid learning combines online and traditional learning in that every trainee gets to decide which they’d prefer. 

How do you choose what type of learning to use for your employees?

Hybrid learning is an excellent option for employee training because it allows a choice your employees can make depending on their time available, ability to travel if necessary, learning preferences, etc.

However, it isn’t necessarily the best type of learning to use for your business. When choosing the best ways to train your employees, keep in mind the ones doing the training, think about how tech-literate they are, if they can travel, how busy they are at work, etc. You’ll also want to keep in mind costs and the resources you already have available to yourself.

In fact, with a few slight adjustments, our list for transitioning to a hybrid model of learning works here as well:

  1. Consider your business’s training needs
  2. Consider your employees’ needs
  3. Consider the pros and cons of the different types of learning for your business 
  4. Consider what resources you have available to you
  5. Figure out costs compared to your training budget
  6. Decide what parameters should surround your employee training
  7. Decide whether you’ll be creating or finding your employee training

You can choose what type of learning you should use for your employees by doing your research, both within your organization and with what options are available.

Can you use a model of learning that combines the blended learning definition and hybrid learning definition to train employees?

Of course, you can! These labels for different types of learning are helpful for practicality’s sake, but you aren’t limited to just one type! Maybe you’ll use seminars available in a hybrid model but have supplementary modules that need to be done online and a final test or exam that needs to be done in person. Or any other combination. That’s just one possibility, off the top of our heads.

Ultimately, it’s about finding the best training methods for you and your employees. Whether that’s just using the hybrid learning definition or combining it with others.

To Sum Up

In summary, hybrid learning is a great way to allow your employees to take part in learning and employee training that works best for them, whether that’s in-person or online, synchronous or asynchronous learning, that you (or the instructor) can track and ensure is properly completed.

And if you need an online platform to host the online part of your hybrid learning, then consider using an LMS. View our demo to learn more about how the perfect LMS accentuates and improves your online employee training. 

Author:
Tyson Chaplin

Tyson Chaplin earned his Master of Educational Technology degree from Boise State University in 2014. He also earned a graduate certificate in Technology Integration and holds teaching certificates in online teaching, special education, and history.

Tyson is an Idaho native who is passionate about technology and how it can help all people learn and better themselves. He has worked in both public and private sectors. Tyson enjoys cooking and traveling with his wife, Malia, and restores vintage video game systems in his free time.

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