Blended/Hybrid Learning


Basics of Hybrid or Blended Learning

  • What is Blended or Hybrid Learning
  • Why use Blended Learning?
  • How does one create Blended Learning?
  • What medium can be used in Blended Learning?


  • What are some of the challenges of Blended Learning?

  • How to manage instructional complexity
  • How to manage the roles and responsibilities.
  • How to create a seamless learning experience.
  • How to meet expectations.
  • How to control costs.


  • What are the advantages of Hybrid Learning?

  • Classroom and time advantages.




  • What is Blended or Hybrid Learning?

    1. Blended learning combines online with face-to-face learning. The goal of blended learning is to provide the most efficient and effective instruction experience by combining delivery modalities.

    2. "The term blended learning is used to describe a solution that combines several different delivery methods, such as collaboration software, Web-based courses, EPSS, and knowledge management practices. Blended learning also is used to describe learning that mixes various event-based activities, including face-to-face classrooms, live e-learning, and self-paced instruction." By Purnima Valiathan
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    Why use Blended Learning?

    1. "Students not only learned more when online sessions were added to traditional courses, but student interaction and satisfaction improved as well." DeLacey and Leonard, Harvard Business School, 2002

    2. "Providing several linked options for learners, in addition to classroom training, increased what they learned." Peter Dean (this is quoted everywhere but I haven't found the study although, experientially this is the case.)

    3. Speedier performance was detected on real world tasks by those who learned through blended strategies as opposed to those that learned via e-learning along. Thomson & NETg, 2003.

    4. "Adults don't just "learn" in one way. Likewise, associations should not make the mistake of providing just one way for adult learners to receive their educational content." by Judith Smith
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    How does one design Blended Learning?

    To design blended training, the instructional designers start by analyzing the training or course objectives and braking them down into the smallest possible pedagogically (for children) or andragogically (for adults) appropriate chunks (learning object).

    After the course or training has been chunked, the best approach to deliver each segment of instruction (learning object) is identified. In some cases the best approach might be using online learning but in others it might be live instruction, for exapmple.

    The course is then aggregated by grouping the instruction logically while taking into account the medium of delivery. In this way, one may require a few lessons online and some others live, for example.
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    What medium can be used in Blended Learning?

    The medium is not limited to technology and can include:
  • Stand-alone, Asynchronous, or Synchronous online learning / training
  • Performance support tools (knowledge management tools)
  • Traditional classroom, Labs, or other "hands-on" experiences
  • Reading assignments, CD-ROM or other self-paced learning
  • Teletraining / Telelearning, or Other media


  • Here is a table that categorizes the type of learning that may be used:

    Live face-to-face (formal)
    * Instructor-led classroom
    * Workshops
    * Coaching/mentoring
    * On-the-job (OTJ) training
    Live face-to-face (informal)
    * Collegial connections
    * Work teams
    * Role modeling
    Virtual collaboration/synchronous
    * Live e-learning classes
    * E-mentoring
    Virtual collaboration/asynchronous
    * Email
    * Online bulletin boards
    * Listservs
    * Online communities
    Self-paced learning
    * Web learning modules
    * Online resource links
    * Simulations
    * Scenarios
    * Video and audio CD/DVDs
    * Online self-assessments
    * Workbooks
    Performance support
    * Help systems
    * Print job aids
    * Knowledge databases
    * Documentation
    * Performance/decision support tools
    Source: Strategies for Building Blended Learning
    By Allison Rossett, Felicia Douglis, and Rebecca V. Frazee
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    How to manage instructional complexity:

    In blended learning the instructor has a wider choice of delivery mediums to combine. With that wider choice also comes greater complexity and pressure on the instructor and designer. This is due to the variety of combinations of technology and possibly the lack of patterns to follow for that particular mix. These issues need to be addressed up front and taken into account during the design. We also need to take this into account due to its effects on the learner. It is easier to finish an online module and start another online module, for example, than it is for that second module to be videoconferencing based. Such changes require the learner to adapt. Time, guidelines, and even brief demos might need to be provided for the learner.
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    How to manage the roles and responsibilities:

    Unlike traditional classroom learning in which there usually is a single instructor, in blended learning you might have multiple individuals, each taking a modality or role in the blend. Up front clarification of instructor and assistant roles is essential for success and the reduction of potential conflict and learner confusion.
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    How to create a seamless learning experience:

    Good communications among instructors and careful planning is another important element in the success of blended learning. Make sure that instructors and assistants communicate with one another throughout the instruction, not just before the course. Make sure that as different segments of the blend are designed, all prerequisites are met by the previous learning objects. Arrange learning objects or alter meeting times to insure each segment reinforces the previously acquired knowledge or skill and introduces new concepts seamlessly in spite of the different modality of delivery.
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    How to meet expectations:

    As with any new technology, there are those that endorse it and there are lagers. While many perceive the lagers to be difficult, a greater challenge is posed by overly eager fast endorsers. These overly eager individuals tend to overestimate the benefits and make others develop false expectations. Manage the expectations carefully so you can meet them and have success. Management of expectations is also important for instructors and learners to realistically perceive the benefits and work to be performed during the training or course.
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    How to control costs and meet ROI goals:

    Blended learning offers great flexibility and great effectiveness as it can chose the best medium for every objective, however, the challenge is to make the blend not only effective but also efficient. In cases where multiple instructors are used it is natural for each to perceive their part of the blend with disproportionate importance. As a result, without controls, ROI will suffer. From the design stage put in place cost controls that work hand in hand with quality assurance and learning effectiveness measures.
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    What are the advantages of Blended Learning?

    As stated before, one obvious advantage of blended learning is its ability to maximize effectiveness by matching the best medium for each learning object (course segment). Here are some of the benefits of a few of the mediums that might be used:

    Classroom: is good for workshops, coaching, exercises, feedback on activities and paper-based tests.
    Self-paced e-learning: is good for simulations, online case studies, interactive learning modules, e-mail, bulletin boards interactions, online assessments, and other forms of CBT (computer based training).
    Live e-Learning: is good for application exercises, online coaching, interaction between students, online feedback, assessment, chats and instant messaging.
    Source: Blended Learning by Ron Kurtus

    To summarize, the theory is that Blended Learning has the potential of offering courses or training that, through the wise choice of the blend, can have results that are better that the sum of the parts.
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