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What's the Difference Between Hybrid and Blended Learning?

What is hybrid learning and is it an effective model for your school district? We evaluate the pros and cons of utilizing hybrid learning.

April 5, 2022

The use of technology has changed the educational landscape in many ways. With the rise in remote education, out of both necessity and desire, hybrid learning and blended learning both take advantage of technology to benefit instructors and students

Although the terms hybrid and blended are often used interchangeably, there are distinct differences. In this guide, we will discuss how hybrid learning and blended learning are utilized in classrooms, how instructors can leverage either model for effective teaching, and discuss the differences between the two methods of instruction.

What is Hybrid Learning?

Hybrid learning is a model of instruction that allows some students to engage fully in the classroom, while other learners participate in the live instruction sessions remotely. Instructors can use video conferencing or live streaming to teach all students simultaneously, even though they are in different locations. This is sometimes referred to as synchronous learning. Instructors who utilize hybrid learning will need to find a variety of activities and tools that suit the needs of all students and allow for asynchronous learning outside of the classroom as well. 

Live Instruction

Most instructors will find that live classroom time is best suited for activities that require direct input and communication. This allows students attending live classes to get the most out of their classroom experience, as well as for remote students to benefit from the interactive environment that hybrid learning offers. Live class time is when instructors should intentionally engage students with the material and with each other. Activities that are ideal for live instruction include: 

  • Lectures and demonstrations 
  • Question and answer sessions 
  • Discussions and debates 
  • Group work
  • Student presentations 
  • Brainstorming sessions and/or feedback sessions

Asynchronous Learning

Learning time that is not spent together is the asynchronous part of the course. Many instructors find that online learning is one of the best ways to utilize this time, but the flexibility of asynchronous learning provides a lot of possibilities for assignments and activities. Activities and tools that are particularly valuable for the asynchronous portions of hybrid learning include: 

  • Prerecorded video sessions
  • Online exercises, quizzes, or exams 
  • Discussion forums 
  • Learning management systems  
  • Readings, written assignments, and any work that can be independently completed offline 

What is Blended Learning?

Blended learning combines both physical classroom instruction and online instruction for all students. It allows all students to interact with the instructor, each other, and the learning materials through both the physical classroom and an online portal or platform. Blended learning provides a cohesive learning experience for all students.

The typical setup for blended learning is that students will receive primary instruction in the physical classroom. Similar to the live portion of a hybrid classroom, instructors should capitalize on in-person time with lectures, labs, discussions, and group activities.

The online portion of blended learning is ideal for pre-recorded lectures, slideshows, online assignments, and discussion forums. These are activities that give students the opportunity to work at their own pace and allow them to prioritize tasks and manage their time. 

Blended learning does not have to be split fifty-fifty between in-class instruction and online instruction. It simply needs to combine the two methods in a way that offers the best of both experiences.   

What is the Difference Between Hybrid and Blended Learning? 

Hybrid learning and blended learning have many similarities, but they also have some nuanced differences. While they both use elements of in-person instruction and online learning, the way these elements are used, as well as the reasons, are different. 

Instructional Time 

One of the fundamental differences between hybrid and blended learning is how instruction is received by students. With hybrid learning, some students are always in the physical classroom, while other students only attend the live classes virtually. Remote students have to rely heavily on technology. Instructors should make sure they offer in-person students and remote students the opportunity to interact with each other through discussions and a variety of group projects or learning sessions, so they do not feel disconnected from each other. 

In blended learning, all students attend physical classes together, and all students participate in the online sessions at the same time. This does not necessarily mean that classroom and online time are split evenly. It simply means that live instruction and online teaching are used in conjunction to offer a diverse learning experience for students. 


Often, the reasons for implementing hybrid learning are to decrease the number of students in the classroom, and/or to increase student enrollment and attendance. It may also allow multi-campus schools to benefit from a professor at one location because live lectures can be streamed to multiple locations. Additionally, students who live further away from campus or are medically fragile can benefit greatly from the accessibility of hybrid learning schedules. 

Blended learning is often used to maximize instructional time and offer students a variety of learning experiences and activities. Since some activities are better suited for in-person instruction, and some activities can be completed off-campus and independently, instructors can design their syllabus with this in mind so that students receive optimal instruction. However, all students receive the same type of instruction at all times. 

Class Size 

Hybrid classrooms can allow for larger student enrollment because the physical size of the classroom doesn't have to limit class size. Instructors need to ensure that all students are receiving adequate one-on-one time, but this can still be achieved through office hours, video conferencing, email, and other forms of communication. It should be noted that many schools will use a form of hybrid learning to rotate a group of students so that everyone receives in-person instruction, but the two groups do not typically combine. 

In blended learning, all students will be in class together, so traditional classroom sizes can be a limiting factor for enrollment. On the other hand, smaller class sizes typically allow for more personal experiences and interaction. Some schools will put different classes on alternating schedules to maximize classroom space. For instance, Class A English may be in the classroom on Monday, Class B Philosophy may use the classroom on Tuesday, while everyone is online Wednesday through Friday. 

Capitalize on Hybrid Learning Opportunities with the Right Tech! 

Hybrid and blended learning both have many benefits for students and teachers, and it's important to maximize those benefits in every way possible. When it comes to online learning, the right platform makes all the difference to the instructor and the students. Whether you are transitioning to a hybrid or blended learning format, or you are looking for an alternative to your online teaching, you need a reliable platform for online instruction and Classavo delivers.

Our software platform is an all-in-one teaching and learning platform that helps professors engage their students more easily with interactive content and analytics. Not only is Classavo free for professors, but it helps save students up to 72% on learning materials. Contact us for more information or to get started with Classavo today. 

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