Education

What is Hybrid Learning and How to Use It in Your Classroom?

Published on February 3, 2022 • Updated on June 7, 2022 • About 8 min. read

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hybrid learning with a laptop on a table surrounded by papers and sticky notes

Businesses and educational institutions are increasingly excited at the possibility of combining in-person and virtual learning, but without a clear understanding of what hybrid learning is, the best tools to use, or how to set up a hybrid learning environment, your classes could be confusing or frustrating for students.

Thankfully, when technology is thoughtfully integrated into training programs and lesson plans, you can address key concerns and create a flexible learning environment that empowers learners to be more independent.

So read on to find out what defines hybrid learning, the tools you should be using, and how to get the most out of your hybrid classrooms.

What is hybrid learning?

Hybrid learning is a teaching method that brings remote and in-person students together in real-time for synchronous classes.

Instructors and learners use video conferencing and engagement platforms, so no meaningful distinction is made between who’s in-person or who’s remote.

Though you might find hybrid learning used synonymously with blended learning, they’re not the same, as you can see below.

What’s the difference between hybrid learning and blended learning?

Blended learning combines traditional teaching with online lesson delivery, materials, and activities. Normally, these digital ways of learning supplement face-to-face classes.

So while hybrid learning mixes remote and in-person students during synchronous classes, blended learning mixes traditional and digital teaching methods, materials, and online learning tools.

What does a successful hybrid learning environment look like?

man wearing headphones and a blue shirt studies from a virtual classroom

The most successful hybrid classes are highly interactive learning environments that are quieter than a traditional classroom, where in-class learners interact with their devices as much as with you or each other.

We’ll talk more about how to set up a hybrid classroom later.

Examples of hybrid learning activities

Here are some hybrid learning exercises you can use to engage learners:

  1. Collaborative brainstorming with a digital whiteboard
  2. Question upvotes to see what your learners want you to discuss first
  3. Short pre-recorded presentations by the instructor or learners
  4. Multimedia worksheets for individuals or groups
  5. Live polls for the class to choose activities or compare opinions

What are the benefits of hybrid learning?

Benefits for teachers and trainers

Professional development

The chance to work with virtual technology is excellent for instructors’ professional experience and sense of motivation.

Edtech tools and features

Trainers can get really creative with Edtech, using it to be more responsive to learner needs and track progress (we look at some of the best online teaching tools further below).

Health and safety

Learners who come down with a dry cough don’t have to be in physical attendance to still benefit from your expertise and carefully planned resources – which is great for them and even better for you.

woman studying from an e-learning platform for online school

Benefits for learners

Accessibility

With hybrid learning, students have far fewer barriers to enjoying education and professional development, no matter their physical location or ability.

Flexibility

Learners can choose where they want to be for a hybrid class. Also, with online tools and recordings, it’s easier for students to review materials at their own pace.

Better engagement

Online learning features like polls, quizzes, digital whiteboards, and reaction emojis can help make classes more engaging.

Benefits for educational institutions and businesses

Cost-effectiveness

With less physical space required, overheads can go way down with digital classes. Also, the potential for larger class sizes can result in savings on instructors. This is especially true for businesses with multiple locations, who also benefit from employees needing less time away from work.

Competitiveness

Colleges, universities, and businesses can use their hybrid learning programs as evidence of their commitment to the most advanced teaching and training methods. Also, institutions can have larger class sizes across a wider range of learner demographics (not to mention time zones).

Expert knowledge sharing

Hybrid learning allows businesses to give employees and trainees more direct access to specialized knowledge and expertise across their organizations.

What are the disadvantages of hybrid learning?

Of course, you need the right devices and tools to engage in hybrid learning. Some of these, like tablets and laptops, can be prohibitively expensive for some schools and businesses.

As teachers and learners become familiar with a new learning environment, careful lesson planning is absolutely essential, and this can be time-consuming for teachers. However, there are lots of user-friendly tools available to teachers to help speed up preparation time and improve the in-class experience – we look at some of these below.

4 best hybrid learning tools

Livestorm

Online courses with Livestorm

Video conferencing technology is a prerequisite for hybrid learning, and the unique advantage of Livestorm is that it’s a video engagement platform with features to help teachers like digital whiteboards, multi-media sharing, breakout rooms, polls, reaction emojis, and question upvotes for live Q&As.

Also, with just a link needed to join in and recordings that can be emailed out automatically, Livestorm is fast and easy to use.

Padlet

Padlet home screen to use tool for virtual learning

Padlet is a bulletin board platform, where you can create, share, and collaborate on multi-media boards for research and review projects. Designed chiefly for schools, its intuitive drag-and-drop interface makes it highly adaptable and useful for just about any learning or training use case.

Wizer

The landing page for the virtual learning tool, Wizer

Wizer is a digital worksheet platform teachers can use to make multimedia resources and questions for their classes. Great for both in-class activities and supplementary study, its automatic feedback feature makes it especially practical for instructors with large student numbers.

Miro

Home page for the video call tool Miro, which helps hybrid teams get work done

Miro is a virtual whiteboarding tool for teams designed for real-time collaboration and presentations.

The pre-made workshop templates are fantastic for trainers and can be used for onboarding, brainstorming, flowcharts, and reviews, along with other resources and group activities – which is why Livestorm has a built-in Miro integration.

Best practices for hybrid teaching

Hybrid classrooms create new opportunities for instructors and learners. To help everyone have a fully engaging and integrated experience, follow these best practices.

Set up a space that’s practical for hybrid learning

Organize seating places and cameras so that everyone can view the resources you’ll be using, such as an in-class whiteboard, and also make sure this arrangement allows you to move around naturally while remaining visible to your online students and professionals (a classic horseshoe is often best).

If you’re using a large screen, so your online learners are visible, set this up for the whole class to see – depending on your class size and shape, opposite the whiteboard at the back of the horseshoe seating arrangement could be a practical place. Also, at the start of each class or session, check no wires or cables are waiting to cause an accident.

Have in-person learners join in online

Ask your in-class learners to join remote attendees by following the class on their devices. This way, they’ll be able to take full advantage of all the available virtual technology, tools, and resources

You can use apps like Mentimeter alongside your video engagement platform to make interactive presentations and collect data, polls, and opinions.

Make recordings easily available

Enable recordings when you set up a class or workshop, which you can also set up to be automatically emailed out to registrants after a session. With Livestorm, the replay will include all your media shares from the class, too, so students and trainees won’t miss out on any worksheets or screen shares.

Track engagement

A video engagement platform like Livestorm makes it easy for you to keep track of event registration and attendance, which is especially useful when it comes to planning classes for large numbers.

And when you have absentees, check the replay analytics to see who viewed the class recording – if you let people know this is part of your process, they’ll be more encouraged to keep up with the rest of the class.

dashboard recordings

Make instructional videos

Get into the habit of creating short instructional videos for tasks, descriptions, and FAQs. With Loom, for example, it’s easy to embed a quick explainer into worksheets and other documents, which will save you from repeat-answering common doubts. Also, it’s useful for learners to be able to return to your recording out of class at their own pace.

Share ground rules for virtual learning

Hybrid education has its own conventions, tools, and practices, and it’s natural that not all your learners will be familiar with these or how they can affect the experience of other learners. So help your class create an optimum virtual learning environment by sharing your virtual classroom rules before or at the beginning of a workshop or course.

Invite responses or questions in the chat panel

Ask learners to make their comments in the chat or questions panel of your video engagement or conferencing platform, which you can quickly scan and highlight as you see fit. This will help prevent the general background noise of a classroom, which can be particularly distracting for remote learners and gives everyone the chance to contribute.

The leader of the video call is engaging with the virtual attendees and there is a list included of all the people in the meeting, with their icons visible as smaller tiles below the speaker.

Have contingency plans (e.g. shareable videos, activities)

Any class can get sidetracked or go flat from time to time – it’s normally simple to improvise in a traditional classroom, but this can be more of a challenge with hybrid learning, especially if you’re not used to hybrid teaching strategies.

So have prepared some activities, worksheets, and pre-recorded videos that you can quickly share as a handy backup. Once learners are quietly working away, you’ll have some time to decide how to proceed.

Explore the possibilities of hybrid learning with the best tools and practices

The possibilities of hybrid learning should make it an exciting, enriching learning experience for teachers and learners, with the opportunity for diverse classes, fun activities, and flexible, accessible classes. But the best practices and tools are essential.

An easy-to-use video engagement platform will bring your whole class closer together, helping everyone to stay on-topic as they get contributing and interacting with each other.

Meanwhile, there are other tools you can bring into the hybrid classroom, which you can use for self-grading exercises and eye-catching presentations.

If you can combine these tools with a carefully organized space, engagement features like polls, multimedia sharing, and unlimited replays, you can create a dynamic learning environment your online students will not just engage with, but love.

Frequently asked questions about hybrid learning

How does COVID affect hybrid learning?

The hybrid learning model gives learners much more flexibility – if anyone is sick or uncomfortable being in a physical classroom, they can simply join in online. Hybrid learning also makes it easy to spread in-person attendees further apart in the classroom without affecting group activities or interactions.

What is the hybrid learning model?

Hybrid learning combines in-person and virtual learning in a single, synchronous class. This gives learners the flexibility to join a class from wherever they choose – if they can’t be present in person, all they need to take part is a device, internet connection, and a quiet space.