For more than two years now, virtual has been the new reality. Corporate America has leaned into virtual work and training, and few have looked back (and those who have, have been met with a wrath of protest). Schools have incorporated more technology than ever before to keep students on track. While the circumstances of the pandemic forced this virtual experiment, we’re now — thankfully — in a place where we have the privilege to ask, “Is this new reality working?”
There are pros and cons to each side: in-person interaction is still invaluable in many situations, and virtual solutions can make life easier in between (read: work and training has become more efficient, and students are more engaged). The fact is, we can’t go back to the way it was before — we live in a changed world, post-pandemic. But what we can do is take a look at the things that work and the things that don’t and forge a more efficient, modern world. Thus, hybrid learning rises from the firestorm of virtual trial and error.
As an eLearning platform, hybrid learning is the name of the game here at Amplifire. Built on brain science principles, our platform is designed to harness technology to promote faster, longer lasting learning. Whether in schools or the workforce, our users benefit from a personalized learning experience made possible by brain-science-backed techniques and analytics. However, humanity is at the core of what we do. Our platform is meant to support people working to achieve better outcomes through learning, which is why we want to share some of our experience with hybrid learning and discuss the dos and don’ts when it comes to navigating this space.
What is hybrid learning?
Hybrid learning is the comprehensive approach of combining the best parts of in-person learning with the most effective parts of virtual learning. It’s more than just half in-person, half online. It’s a strategic format that puts the learner at the center of the experience, incorporating the best teaching strategies for better learning and stronger retention.
Many resources will describe hybrid learning as a type of blended learning or use the terms interchangeably, but they are two separate teaching styles. Blended learning refers to combining the traditional in-person setting with any digital technology. Examples include the use of whiteboards, learning software, computer labs, etc. On the other hand, hybrid learning uses a virtual setting to complement, enrich, or supplement in-person learning, usually in equal parts. In this way, it takes blended learning into the post-pandemic space where teaching is more learner-centric, rather than forcing the learner to conform to one setting.
What are the benefits of hybrid learning?
For a while, in-person learning was all we knew. Virtual learning had been growing since before the pandemic, particularly in adult learning settings, from higher education to on-the-job training and beyond. While the pandemic gave virtual solutions a bad rap (we know, the Slack sound is triggering), hybrid learning is truly an asset to schools and corporations moving forward. Here’s why:
Flexibility. Hybrid learning doesn’t eliminate in-person learning, it just adds to it. Learning comes to the learner, rather than the other way around. When learners can participate in their own time at their own pace, they ultimately spend more time learning than figuring out transportation or scheduling.
Inclusivity. Hybrid learning is more inclusive than the traditional in-person setting. The ability to learn anywhere allows those who don’t have access to reliable transportation to participate more regularly. Hybrid learning is more accommodating for those with other work, family, and educational obligations. For students who require accommodations for special needs or disabilities, eLearning can offer support where schools and organizations might not have the resources.
Efficacy. Let’s face it: in-person learning is simply not the most effective method for teaching and training. Thanks to the work done by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus on the forgetting curve, we understand the importance of incorporating brain science principles like repetition. Just seven days after a training session, employees will have forgotten 65% of the material covered. The same applies to students. Replace that one-and-done session with a hybrid scenario where learners are presented and quizzed on the material more than once, and the material is more likely to stick.
Personalization. The one-size-fits-all approach never works — whether it’s a tee-shirt or a lesson plan, uniformity is ineffective. Learners progress at different rates, depending on prior knowledge, misconceptions, distractions, and other factors. Technology has the bandwidth to make it possible for instructors to incorporate adaptive learning and meet learners where they are.
Cost. The pandemic has had a lasting effect on the workforce. Many schools and organizations are feeling the pressure of labor shortages and increasing costs, leaving employees feeling the strain. Employees need more support as employers work to offer what they can. eLearning has emerged as a cost-effective solution. Data insights and virtual tools can support teachers who are overextended. Amplifire’s learning algorithms have shown to deliver effective employee training in less time at lower costs. In a time of financial strain, hybrid solutions ease the burden on all fronts.
Hybrid learning dos and don’ts:
Don’t: let learners get discouraged
Remote learners are susceptible to virtual burnout (think: the Zoom meeting that could have been an email; students getting antsy during virtual class). So, it’s imperative that instructors keep things interesting. It’s okay to acknowledge the burnout and prime hybrid learning with a positive outlook.
Do: take advantage of different teaching mediums
Hybrid learning allows for a variety of teaching styles that are limited in person. With the help of tech, instructors can offer in-person lectures, debates, discussion groups, self-paced learning, videos, graphics, pre-recorded lessons, interactive games, and more. Each style has its best use case where it’s most effective.
Don’t: neglect change management features
The transition to hybrid learning doesn’t have to be challenging. You won’t have to manage everything on your own — a good platform will support your change. Consider how your lesson plan or training program can adapt to a virtual format. Implement instructional design principles to build a hybrid program that suits your needs.
Do: invest in the right tech
Not all eLearning platforms are created equal. Choose a platform that enhances the learning experience. When used correctly, they make learning stick better and longer. Techniques based in brain science, like gamification, repetition, curiosity, feedback, and metacognition, enrich any lesson plan, making it more effective on a biological level.
For example, when the Amplifire eLearning platform — which is built using the techniques mentioned above — was implemented at a private university as a supplement to classroom learning, grades increased by 51%, and the average final grade increased from 57% to 86%. Retention rates increased and failure rates decreased — dramatically.
Do: let virtual instruction inform in-person interactions
Virtual and in-person learning should complement each other in a hybrid scenario. Instructors can use insights from virtual learning to inform in-person sessions. For example, Amplifire’s Virtual AI identifies where specific students are struggling and helps instructors formulate an action plan for further teaching. Tech doesn’t replace instructors — it supports them.