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What’s the Difference Between Blended and Hybrid Learning?

Technology has played a vital role in transforming education to better accommodate students’ learning requirements and teachers’ teaching styles. From learning management systems (LMS) to adaptive learning tools and video conferencing platforms, technology has changed how and where students learn.

During times of crisis or uncertainty, such as the recent global pandemic, hybrid and blended learning models become necessary for schools to ensure that education overcomes any uncertain disruptions.

As reopening guidelines continue to evolve for educational institutions, you must understand the principles of hybrid and blended learning and how it complements the logistics of a safe school. Furthermore, you should also be prepared to implement and optimize these models to get students into a more productive yet safe learning environment.

Hybrid and blended learning models fall in between the learning spectrum between the traditional classroom and complete online learning.

What is Blended Learning?

Blended learning is an approach to education that combines traditional place-based, teacher-guided classrooms with online educational materials. It requires the physical presence of both teacher and student, with some elements of student control over time, place or pace.

In a nutshell, blended learning is the integration of technology into the curriculum. The combination of face to face classroom and computer-based activities in the curriculum is the hallmark of blended learning. Essentially, complimenting and creating an integrated learning environment.

It mainly involves face-to-face class sessions accompanied by digital learning materials and activities – essentially a blend of traditional and online learning.

A fundamental component of a blended course is that these online materials are not intended to replace traditional face-to-face class time, rather it supplements and builds upon the narrative of the classroom.

What does blended learning look like in practice?

For example,

Students have to be present in a physical classroom set up at school, with no option to attend the class virtually. However, the teacher uses a virtual learning platform to post related learning materials and resources about the subject that students are learning in the classroom. These materials are available online for every student for studying, researching and even completing assignments or homework.

What is Hybrid Learning?

“Blended Learning” and “Hybrid Learning” are the terms often used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference between the two terms. 

Hybrid learning is an educational model where some students attend class-in-person and others join the class virtually from home but at the same time. Under the hybrid learning model, teachers can simultaneously teach in-person and remote students through a mix of in-person and web-based, learner-driven activities.

It combines traditional classroom experiences, experiential learning objectives and digital course delivery to apply the right mix of learning techniques to teach effectively and meet the learning needs of students.

Hybrid learning is fascinating and provides a coherent experience for all the students. The hybrid learning model provides educators and parents with a greater degree of flexibility and freedom to choose how to teach and learn while expanding access to education.

Under the hybrid learning model, the online portions however can take on lots of different forms, such as bite-sized concept videos and clips, assigned readings, gamified lessons, online discussions and quizzes. Some assignments might be synchronous or live. That means all the students attend the class either physically or log onto the class’s online learning platform to participate in lectures, activities, or discussions at the same time. 

But hybrid courses can also include asynchronous elements. Simply put, hybrid classes often have online portions that students complete at their own pace. 

Read more on Hybrid Learning – The Future of Education

What does hybrid learning look like in practice?

A hybrid school system splits students into groups and creates a schedule for in-person and distance learning. A solution where some students can learn from home, while the other half attends school, ensures that large groups are avoided. This is so needed during these unfortunate pandemic times.

For instance,

Learning group A and learning group B are from the same class; learning group A attends school in-person, while learning group B attends the class virtually but at the same time. 

Under the hybrid learning model, learning group A might attend school in person for a few days a week, wherein, learning group B logs into the virtual learning platform to attend the class or vice versa. However, both learning groups then participate in the same activities for the rest of the week.

The teacher can also allow flexible learning days for all students in all groups based on learning objectives.

The most similar aspect of hybrid learning and blended learning is that both methods use technology to support and supplement learning. However, there are also differences.

Difference between Blended Learning and Hybrid Learning:

  1. Pure blended learning doesn’t allow students to attend classes virtually; they have to be present in the class to learn from the teacher as it focuses on balancing the traditional instruction. Hybrid learning, on the other hand, allows for asynchronous learning, leans more heavily on online or nontraditional learning instructions.
  2. While blended learning focuses on a set ratio and combination of offline and online instruction, hybrid learning seeks to find a flexible balance of online and offline that promotes the best experience, even down to individual students. 
  3. Another differentiator between the two is that blended learning focuses on incorporating distance learning with traditional instruction and lacks asynchronous learning. However,  hybrid learning incorporates traditional and online learning techniques simultaneously to best teach the subject, no matter if it’s online or offline.
  4. While hybrid learning accommodates students who may attend the same class in-person and remotely, under the blended learning model, students are expected to attend class physically to learn. You do not record lectures and post them later, in case students can’t make a class or need to learn virtually. In contrast with blended learning, hybrid learning offers greater flexibility in terms of interaction, frequency and learning at school and home.


Recent advances in technology have made both blended and hybrid learning more accessible and viable than ever and provided new opportunities for schools to offer teaching and learning experiences that will fit the needs of the students, parents and teachers.

To accommodate students’ needs and abide by local health restrictions, schools are increasingly looking at configuring learning management systems.

But, before you consider investing in any learning management system, check our ultimate guide to K-12 learning management systems.

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