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Hybrid Learning: What Are They Going On About?

Updated: Sep 24, 2021

It's a phrase that we keep hearing and let's be honest we're going to hear more and more about it. ”Hybrid learning” is very much the flavor of the year and to coin a much used phrase, the new norm.

However, the problem is, that so many times when we hear the phrase “hybrid learning” people using it are actually talking about something very different than what it really is! In blogs podcasts and webinars, I've heard people talk about this concept of “hybrid learning” meaning something which combines synchronous learning with asynchronous learning. People talk about it as if it is what we have previously called “blended learning”. It isn't! When we combine two different learning modalities, for example a virtual workshop with some self-directed activity we are blending the learning modes. But when we create “hybrid learning” we are designing and delivering learning to a hybrid group of learners. In this sense, “hybrid” means a combination of physically present learners along with remote learners. The hybrid is the mix of learner groups.

The real problem that L&D professionals face is how to design and facilitate learning to a mixed hybrid group. Of course, this has been done for many years and many of us have experienced the frustration of dialing into a meeting that is happening somewhere else. We know how frustrating it is to be the voice on the squawk box, the person that everybody forgets and that nobody listens to unless you scream your intent and interrupt. We have felt the second-class citizen and it's not a comfortable feeling. So how do we actually prevent that problem becoming the norm in the hybrid learning experience?

Well, the secret is quite simply to reverse the situation and to make the virtual learner the priority, versus the in-room learner. Perhaps the best way to describe it is to leverage that also often-used phrase “digital first” to describe the priority for the instructional designer and the facilitator. The “Zoomer” over the “Roomer” is how we describe it. If the primary focus is now on the virtual, remote learner, then we are in effect turning the tables. The advantage that is normally enjoyed by the in-person learner will not really be diminished, they will still be able to connect in-person with other learners, perhaps even the facilitator, if the facilitator is in the same physical space. But if the emphasis is put on the remote learner, then the learning experience prioritizes them.

What do we mean? Well, we mean for example:

  • Make sure that the facilitator delivers “to camera”: Don’t talk to the physical group, even if you are in the same room- talk to the camera!

  • Use the technology (chat/whiteboard/annotate) as the way to communicate with all of the learners

  • Mix your breakout groups to include both remote and physically present learners (easy to do with virtual breakouts, even thou it feels a bit strange at first

If facilitators, and instructional designers can keep this “Digital First” approach at the front of their minds, then the remote learners become the priority and the learning experience of the in-person learners isn’t diminished- we just make it more equal. THAST’S the “new norm and what we at BCR mean by “Hybrid Learning”.

If you would like to know more, please email us at and download our free infographic on the topic of “Hybrid Learning”, or listen to one of the following podcasts where Joanne and myself explore the whole issue of “Hybrid Learning” in a lot more detail.


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