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What is Hybrid Learning and How is it Changing the Face of Education

Online learning is becoming a popular choice for colleges and universities across the country, yet many students are not willing to completely forgo the in-person learning experience. A hybrid learning model lets students have both. Through hybrid learning, students and faculty can embrace the benefits of online education while retaining the perks of in-person instruction in a flexible format that meets the needs of students well. Here is a closer look at how hybrid learning works, how it differs from other learning models, and what benefits it provides to students.

What is a Hybrid Learning Model?

Today, education on all levels, including the college level, no longer has to follow the same model. Technology makes it possible to incorporate remote instruction with the traditional classroom model and create accessible learning experiences for everyone. Hybrid learning takes advantage of this technology to allow students to take courses online and in-person to accommodate their needs.

Hybrid learning typically offers courses both in-person and online. Students have the freedom to choose the learning model that works best for them at any given point in their education. Some will complete their degrees fully online while others will choose a blend of the two.

Tools Used in the Hybrid Learning Model

To accommodate both online and in-person students, while giving all students the right education, hybrid learning models rely heavily on technology. Some of the tech used in these platforms include:

Video Calling

Through live videos, at-home students can attend class at the same time as in-person students. Video calling technology also allows for face-to-face collaboration on student projects or interaction with instructors.

Online Discussion Forums

Online discussion forums give online students the flexibility to participate in group discussions and projects on their own time. It also creates a learning environment that is accessible to all types of students.

Pre-Recorded Videos

When live video instruction is not the right fit, pre-recorded videos allow remote students to watch lectures as their schedules permit.

Online Exercises

Online classroom assignments can be used by both in-person and remote students, giving them access to the same activities and assignments to ensure equal instruction for both student types.

Learning Management Systems

These technologies make assets, such as slideshows or course materials, accessible to online learners who do not come to campus. A learning management system gives the teacher a place to post worksheets, notes, and other media where everyone can log in and access it.

Hybrid Learning vs Blended Learning vs Flipped Classrooms

Hybrid learning is one form of remote learning that is gaining traction in the modern college and university setting. It has similarities to blending learning or flipped classrooms, but it is not the same.

Blended learning has both online and in-classroom activities, but it requires all students to be in the classroom at the same time. This model reduces classroom time, but it doesn’t provide the flexibility of a hybrid model.

A flipped classroom is similar. Here, students watch lectures at home via the web, then use classroom time to get guidance or work with students on classroom projects. Like a blended learning model, it requires students to be in the classroom at the same time.

Only hybrid learning gives students the flexibility to choose their learning model based on their needs. This is the best flexibility while incorporating the benefits of technology.

5 Benefits of Hybrid Learning Methods

Hybrid learning has a number of distinct benefits for students, including:

1. Flexibility  

With hybrid learning, students are able to choose the learning method that works best for them based on their schedule, their stage in their degree program, and even their learning style. When the need changes, they can change the learning delivery model to fit.

2. Affordability

Schedules and learning methods aren’t the only flexible thing about hybrid learning programs. Tuition is often flexible too. Since students can have a combination of in-person and online courses, it only makes sense for tuition to have the same fluidity. So, therefore, hybrid learning programs are usually more affordable than traditional in-person education. Additionally, if finances start to tighten, the hybrid learning model allows students the flexibility to shift toward less expensive, online courses for the upcoming term instead of switching to a new online school/program or having to pause education altogether.

3. Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning

Synchronous learning takes place through learning experiences that happen in real-time. There is tremendous value in synchronous lessons because this is where engagement and discussion happen. Asynchronous learning is self-directed. It does not take place in real-time or in person. This provides greater flexibility for students so they can manage their time better, and it is an option with hybrid learning. With a hybrid learning model, students have access to both synchronous and asynchronous learning.

4. Freedom

Hybrid learning also creates freedom to self-direct learning more than the classroom learning model. Students can return to material repeatedly if they do not understand it, or they can delve deeper into a topic of particular interest. They also have platforms to develop conversations on their own time with instructors and peers.

5. Efficiency 

With hybrid learning, students are able to use their time efficiently. They do not have to check in for classes only to find that the entire course hour will be spent on virtual work or homework they could have done at home. Instructors are able to use their resources more efficiently, as well, through technology that delivers information to students in place of paper print offs.

Tips for Making the Most out of Your Hybrid Learning Experience

If you are excited about the flexibility and structure of a hybrid learning experience, then take some time to find a school that offers this learning model. Once you have found one, there are several things you can do to improve your learning experience.

Give Yourself a Study Space

Since you are going to be doing some of your coursework on your own, give yourself a place to do it. If possible, make a study space that is separate from your bedroom. Add items to the space that help with your learning style, such as an exercise ball for a chair if you are a kinesthetic learner or a structured organization system if you are a visual learner.

Organize Your Document Files

When you learn remotely in a hybrid learning model, you will end up with a large number of documents for your courses. It can be easy to forget which paper was for what class, so create a naming process that helps you keep them separated. Consider dedicating separate folders in your hard drive for each course, and then name the actual files in a way that helps you find what you need when it’s time to turn it in.

Create a Schedule

Flexibility is one of the perks of hybrid learning, but it can quickly turn into a drawback if you aren’t strict with your time. Create a schedule that incorporates the classes that you need to watch live or attend in-person, then set aside time in that schedule for the self-directed learning experiences in your program. Once you have a schedule, print it off and hang it where you can see it to keep yourself on track each day.

Make In-Person Connections 

One thing that is potentially lost in a hybrid learning model is the in-person interaction you would normally get in the classroom. Make an effort to get to know people in your classes, perhaps meeting for study sessions or coffee, to overcome this. Having a name and phone number for a classmate also means you can get answers to your questions about an assignment when needed.

Be Fully Engaged

When you log in to do your coursework or view the online discussion boards, make sure you’re fully engaged with the learning activities. Even though the format of instruction is different, make an effort to fully engage with the material and the people in your program when you have the chance.

Real-World Skills You Gain in a Hybrid Learning Program

Hybrid learning is a newer form of learning for the modern college student, but it is one that delivers real-world applications that will help in your future career. Some of these include:

Time management 

It takes more effort to manage a remote learning schedule and stay on top of your assignments, and a hybrid learning model gives you the chance to tackle that skill.

Technology skills 

You will be interacting with many different types of technology in your hybrid learning experiences, and those skills will translate well into your future career. The world is increasingly tech savvy, and you need to work with many different types of tech to be well prepared for that world.

Working well with others remotely

Your hybrid learning environment teaches you how to work with classmates you never met in-person. In today’s highly digital world, it’s entirely possible for you to have coworkers you never meet in-person as well. Learning how to communicate clearly in a digital environment without nonverbal cues will translate well into your future career.

Self-discipline

In order to manage your online learning, you must have a high level of self-discipline. You will not have a professor monitoring everything you do in class, so you must be able to direct some of your own learning. In your career, this self-discipline will bring big rewards.

Meeting deadlines

Again, you are not going to have that teacher hounding you about the paper that is due. Meeting deadlines is a critical skill, and you will learn it well with hybrid learning.

Enjoy Flexibility and Prepare Well for Your Future with Hybrid Learning

Hybrid learning gives students the flexibility they demand while they prepare for their future career. It provides both in-person and online instruction, so students can choose what works best for them. This new learning model has big rewards for graduates who gain the self-discipline and time management skills they need.

If you are curious about hybrid learning, reach out to Unity College. Our flexible hybrid instruction model gives you the freedom to choose, so you can benefit from online courses when it makes sense. Reach out to our admissions team today to learn more about Hybrid Learning at Unity College.