L&D or HR professionals in the 2020s have had a fair share of experience with remote and hybrid workforces by now. And to achieve business goals, training these employees is just as important as training those on location.

Corporate training is ever-evolving, with multiple techniques and strategies for businesses to choose from. Hybrid learning is one such approach. Although newer than the rest, hybrid learning comes with the promise of combining the “best of both worlds.”

This article will walk you through some of the benefits and challenges of hybrid learning.

What is Hybrid Learning?

Hybrid learning is a form of synchronous learning where some learners attend sessions virtually while others attend them in person. Therefore, this training format is instructor-led and happens in real-time.

However, asynchronous resources both learner groups can access supplement class instruction.

This mix of virtual, live, and asynchronous elements might lead people to confuse hybrid learning with blended learning. But they are not the same.

Hybrid Vs. Blended Learning

Hybrid learning, as stated above, is a delivery format where two learner groups learn simultaneously but from different locations.

On the other hand, blended learning combines in-person training with virtual, asynchronous elements. Thus, some portions of the curriculum are delivered live, whereas other parts, or more commonly, exercises, projects, and activities, are completed by the learners online. The distribution of asynchronous and synchronous, in-person learning is the same for all learners. In other words, when a face-to-face session takes place, all learners need to attend. And when a virtual element is introduced, all learners need to consume it.

Hence, while blended and hybrid learning uses similar hardware and software, they do so in different ways and for different purposes.

Both formats have their strengths, depending on the goals and resources of the organization.

The Appeal of Hybrid Learning in Corporate Training

According to a 2021 Accenture study, 83% of employees surveyed preferred a hybrid working model. Additionally, 63% of companies that offered hybrid working options experienced high-revenue growth. In comparison, 69% of companies with rigid attendance policies, such as fully remote or on-site, had negative to no growth.

Given these findings, it is reasonable to expect the number of businesses adopting a hybrid model to increase steadily. In fact, many organizations are already following this model.

This shift poses interesting challenges for organizational learning. Coming up with different training programs for remote and live workforces is expensive, time-consuming, and inefficient. Culture-wise, it creates a gap between the two employee groups and can lead to an “us vs. them” mentality.

Thus, the more straightforward and holistic solution to training a hybrid workforce is a hybrid learning approach rather than investing extra time and money.

Hybrid learning is far from fully formed at this stage. Instead, it is still developing and evolving. However, it is on a potential fast track to becoming a boon in the corporate L&D sphere.

The Organizational Benefits of Hybrid Learning

Some of the most practical benefits of hybrid learning are:

  • Reduced instructor workload: Hosting remote and on-location employees at the same time makes scheduling sessions easier. And adopting a hybrid training model reduces the number of sessions an instructor needs to take.
    Spending less time in sessions allows instructors to focus on other equally important things. These include one-on-one student interactions, improving course content, developing more resources, learning new ed-tech software, etc.
  • Higher course attendance: A hybrid workforce means that even on-location employees can work remotely when being physically present is impossible. Similarly, employees do not have to miss training on days they cannot make it to the office in a hybrid learning model. They can tune in from wherever they are or access recordings later without struggling to catch up with their peers.
  • Gives learners the comfort and guidance of instructor-led training: Due to being synchronous, even for virtual learners, hybrid learning retains the benefits of instructor-led training. Every course attendee has the chance to interact with the training professional, enhancing their takeaways from the course. Additionally, hybrid learning also promotes inter-learner interaction, creating a learning culture in the company.
  • Acknowledgment of job commitments: Synchronous hybrid training also ensures remote workers do not have to sacrifice work or personal time to attend training. Since in-person employees can only be trained during working hours, all sessions in a hybrid model occur then.
    Studies have previously suggested that working remotely often interferes with work-life balance. Hybrid learning is one helpful solution to tackle that problem.
  • Collaboration opportunities with external industry experts: A hybrid training program has the infrastructure to integrate virtual and physical learning environments. Thus, it opens up opportunities for the organization to collaborate with industry experts from other companies or institutions. This expansion provides learners with valuable exposure and keeps them ahead of the curve.
  • A larger geographical recruitment range: The ability to train both kinds of employees gives an organization the opportunity to expand its recruitment range. This leads to a more diverse workforce and opens up access to otherwise untappable talent. A robust body of evidence confirms that a diverse workforce leads to more innovation and higher revenue.

Challenges of Hybrid Learning

Like any approach, hybrid learning also comes with unique challenges. Developing a hybrid training program is often a very intensive task. The three main challenges of hybrid learning are:

  • Making the shift to a hybrid training format: In contrast to purely physical or purely virtual training, hybrid learning requires L&D professionals to cater to two environments thoroughly. Some common considerations are infrastructure, room operators, audiovisual aids and resources, hosting platforms, LMS, and learning activities that are equally constructive for both learner groups.
    Communication is also a big challenge. Studies from higher education institutions have shown that remote students often feel unable to communicate with the teacher. A similar drawback can safely be anticipated for corporate training. Thus, before going live, extensive planning and testing are essential.
    Given the novelty of hybrid learning, all organizations might not feel up to the challenge. However, they can always collaborate with learning professionals if their budget allows.
  • Maintaining equal learning standards for both learner groups: At present, it is difficult to gauge differences in the quality of learning of remote and in-person learners. This area needs further research.
    Some tips for working around this are:
    • Jotting down precise learning objectives
    • Conducting pre-tests and post-tests
    • Gathering regular learner feedback
    • Involving remote students effectively

Another challenge of hybrid learning is coming up with effective ways to involve remote learners. The best way to do so is to use compelling audiovisual aids during sessions. Multimodal learning is easier to retain as it caters to different learning styles. In addition, variety promotes cognitive engagement, a valuable predictor of learner satisfaction in hybrid formats (Jun et al., 2020).

Closing Remarks

Hybrid learning has the potential to change L&D trends for the better. It offers compelling benefits for corporate training and synergizes well with every business’s goal to maximize revenue. Integrating such an approach to training will, thus, open up opportunities for innovation and growth for organizations.

Infographics

What is Hybrid Learning

What is Hybrid Learning

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the hybrid learning approach to teaching?

Hybrid learning is a form of synchronous learning where some learners attend sessions virtually while others attend them in person. Therefore, this training format is instructor-led and happens in real-time.

What is the difference between hybrid and blended learning?

Hybrid learning, as stated above, is a delivery format where two learner groups learn simultaneously but from different locations.

On the other hand, blended learning combines in-person training with virtual, asynchronous elements. Thus, some portions of the curriculum are delivered live, whereas other parts, or more commonly, exercises, projects, and activities, are completed by the learners online. The distribution of asynchronous and synchronous, in-person learning is the same for all learners.

What is a hybrid classroom?

A hybrid classroom is one where some learners are present physically and others attend virtually at the same time.

What is the difference between hybrid and online class?

A hybrid class has a mix of virtual and in-person learners, whereas in an online class, all learners attend through a device.

References

  • Raes, Annelies; Detienne, Loulou; Windey, Ine; Depaepe, Fien  (2019). A systematic literature review on synchronous hybrid learning: gaps identified. Learning Environments Research – doi:10.1007/s10984-019-09303-z
  • Xiao, Jun; Sunâ Lin, Hongâ Zheng; Lin, Tzuâ Han; Li, Mengyuan; Pan, Zhimin; Cheng, Hsuâ Chen (2020). What makes learners a good fit for hybrid learning? Learning competences as predictors of experience and satisfaction in hybrid learning space. British Journal of Educational Technology, bjet.12949–. doi:10.1111/bjet.12949
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