One of the great benefits of the technological boom that has happened across all sectors within the last half-century is the development of digital learning and training solutions for every phase of life. Not only are today’s education initiatives better able to harness technologies to customize content and create more engaging learning experiences for students, they also provide ways to easily integrate continuous workplace education into the day-to-day routine of professionals in their respective fields.
In fact, new technologies are making it easier and more efficient than ever for employees to stay up to date on professional developments without having to devote large amounts of personal time to study. Organizations can now deliver a variety of learning activities into one’s regular workflow with the right resources. However, while eLearning tools are highly effective in a lot of ways, they aren’t always the most effective way to approach a given learning objective. That’s where hybrid learning methods come into play.
Hybrid learning is a way of combining traditional classroom experiences, experiential learning objectives, and digital course delivery that emphasizes using the best option for each learning objective. That means unlike blended learning models, which seek to balance the face-to-face and online aspects within a course, hybrid classrooms vary widely according to the subject matter taught and the needs of specific groups of learners.
Learn more about creating blended and remote learning environments in our latest whitepaper: The Remote Work eBook: Your Guide to Creating Effective Remote Workplace Learning Programs.
Assessing Learning Objectives and Progress
Hybrid course design is a delicate process that requires input from a variety of professionals to reach its full potential, because it needs to be grounded in the best practices established in previous course designs as well as the individual needs of the learner. For example, this means while it may be true that certain skills are best learned in a lab setting where students can get hands-on experience, there are some learners who find those methods inaccessible due to geographic limitations, disability, or scheduling issues.
The course designer working to build a hybrid module needs to have the knowledge and expertise to take all these factors into account. This is typically done by weighing the needs of the learner population and their access to instructor-led trainings or digital courses, while also working to build modules that can flex to meet the needs of the learner.
Today’s cutting edge learning management systems (LMS) help learning professionals get the most out of hybrid teaching by using machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to gather data and identify trends. This benefits both individuals and L&D departments in a few ways:
- Individualized analytics and insights help reinforce positive behaviors like daily course interactions
- Assessment analytics that shape the content and objectives are presented next as students complete lessons and modules
- Assessment tools can gather information about retention and mastery of offline lessons, whether in seminar or experiential form
By using analytics, learning professionals can better assess whether individual components are performing as desired in their current presentation format. That allows them to change the module and its in-person components as more data is gathered about the effectiveness of a delivery method. This is very important because the best delivery method can change over time as new tools are developed to help learners internalize important concepts.
Maximizing Productive Interaction
When students are engaged in a seminar experience, they have the chance to ask questions and get additional explanation and context around key concepts, which is a great benefit. On the other hand, they also wind up being committed to that seminar time, so if the material is a review of lessons they have already mastered or it occurs during the middle of an important experiential learning project, it can wind up undercutting learning goals by taking time away from the student’s independent work.
One of the biggest benefits found in hybrid learning course design is the flexibility of delivery. Students can get face time to help with concepts that need extra reinforcement and explanation, lab time for productive hands-on experience where warranted, and remote interaction to help with basic questions. This still leaves them enough independent learning time to work through the lessons and assessments without the scheduling bloat that comes from a like-it-or-not weekly classroom commitment. This also makes it easier for instructors to be effective, because they do not have to find ways to bring hands-on learning into a seminar and they can more easily assess whether independent readings and exercises are working for the group.
Implement a Hybrid Learning Strategy
Today’s most versatile and effective eLearning course designs tend to fall into the hybrid learning style, but that doesn’t mean they all look alike. Some hybrid classes benefit from a 90/10 model, with students meeting to engage in discussions around the material, allowing them to see how others understand it and to get feedback from the instructor. Some others fit a 50/50 style, with weekly classroom commitments to cover core concepts and a lot of reinforcement and reading outside of the classroom. It all depends on the needs of the learner.
Learn more about hybrid learning in our upcoming eThink Academy course, Hybrid Teaching Essentials. In this course, you will explore research-based approaches for creating a successful hybrid teaching and learning experience. Topics of focus will include course design basics, common hybrid teaching models, methods for making the most of your class time, leveraging your learning management system to create an innovative and engaging student experience, and replicating formerly face-to-face experiences in an online classroom.
By partnering with eLearning experts like the ones at eThink, you can design a learning management system to implement a hybrid learning strategy. Contact us to learn more about our fully-managed solutions for open-source Moodle™ and Totara Learning Management Systems.