This article is based on our recent ebook ‘The 5-Stage Model for Hybrid Learning: What It Is, How It Works, and Why We Need It’. In this article, we cover the basics of hybrid learning, why it’s important (and inevitable), and most importantly, the way you need to shift your mindset to adopt and excel with hybrid learning.
What Is Hybrid Learning?
It’s helpful to start with a definition.
In simple terms, hybrid learning is the simultaneous live delivery of learning in both virtual and in-person environments. In a hybrid session, you can deliver learning to, say, eight people in the room with you and another 15 online. Or any other number combination. Everyone is sharing a learning experience, but joining from different places.
While it may feel like a new concept, hybrid learning has been in place in a variety of organizations for years. For example, it’s always been particularly useful for geographically disparate workforces. However, the importance and inevitability of hybrid became incredibly clear during mass remote working throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Hybrid wasn’t caused by the pandemic, but it has been accelerated by it.
The future of work is hybrid. So, too, is the future of learning.
We’ve created a model of hybrid learning, including practical tips for designing, prepping, and facilitating hybrid sessions. You can find this in our ebook (linked at the top of the article), alongside an understanding of why it’s both important and inevitable, and a look ahead to what the future of hybrid learning may look like.
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The Case for Hybrid Learning
Here’s a common misconception about hybrid learning programs: if some people are learning in person and some are online, then it’s easy to just plan for one and then the other. They may be online at the same time but the activities will be different, right?
No, not really.
Hybrid learning is all about blending those two experiences together. The experience should be of the same quality for all learners, regardless of where they’re learning from. For example, usually, learners who are physically present get to see the facilitator/expert talking the most clearly. If instead, you use a video of the expert explaining a concept, then everyone has the same experience of the expert and content.
Deliberately designing a hybrid style of learning merges virtual and in-person delivery through technology. Learners joining virtually aren’t just joining in at a distance. If you adjust the learning style and experience for everyone involved, you create a more inclusive and accessible environment where everyone, regardless of their ability or desire to attend in person, can experience learning the same way.
More workplaces, and higher ed institutions, are taking a hybrid approach to work. With more fully remote recruits, geographically dispersed teams, and a higher uptake of optional remote working, it’s important that our facilitation skills can keep up. Adapting to hybrid learning can also reduce your training costs as you can save on the need to pull everyone into one place across states and countries, venue hire, and manage other geographical logistics.
In order to pull this off, here’s some help adjusting your mindset!
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The Mindset Shift for Hybrid Learning
In order to design effective hybrid learning, you’ll need to move away from the online or in-person dichotomy. Regardless of where the majority of your learners are (in person or virtual), you need to shift your focus in order to create worthwhile learning experiences for everyone involved.
The key is to think about delivering a shared experience versus separate experiences based on your location. And actually, it’s going to look a lot like planning for virtual learning. This may come as a surprise but hear me out...
People often have virtual experiences while they’re physically next to each other. They may share funny photos with a friend who’s sitting right next to them, watch videos together on a phone, tablet, or laptop, or send each other digital content while they’re in the same room. Communicating and engaging in virtual content while being physically together is nothing new. It’s a part of how people make meaning together in the modern, hyperconnected world.
To succeed at hybrid learning, you’ll be planning a lot of virtual delivery of content—but where the mindset shift really comes in is how you tie this all together. How can you use technology to not only reach those attending virtually but level the playing field for every person attending? How can you maintain the spontaneity of collaborating in person with the practical benefits of virtual learning tools?
Ultimately, the key is in meticulous planning and rehearsing. Hybrid learning requires not just facilitation, but choreography (there’s more on that in the ebook).
This shift will help you approach learning in a new, evolved way. And LEO Learning can help you get started.
We’ve created a model for hybrid learning to help clear up some of these things. This five-stage model can help you create a hybrid learning program, whether a transformation of something existing or from the ground up. It covers everything from planning to execution and comes in four key overlapping parts.