Blended and Hybrid Learning: What’s the Difference?


Technology allows students to learn in plenty of ways, but the two terms at the forefront of the growing world of K-12 education and instruction are blended learning and hybrid learning. As more schools are converting to hybrid instruction, we’re happy to dive more into this subject.

Blended learning and hybrid learning are easily confused, but they are not the same. Learn what these learning types are, their benefits, and their differences below.

What is blended learning?

Blended learning is when traditional classroom instruction meets supplemental online learning materials. A lot of schools are implementing blended learning as technology in schools continues to increase. Basically, this is having a laptop, tablet, or some kind of technology tool, lesson, or game to complement a teacher’s instruction for the day.

One unique approach to blended learning is the flipped classroom. Students learning in a flipped classroom engage with the material first at home (online, of course) and then bring their findings the following day to class. Flipped learning is student-centered, and students engage in discussion, collaboration, and debate with their peers and teacher. This isn’t independent learning, rather, it introduces students to new concepts and allows them to expand that knowledge further in the classroom.

What are the benefits of blended learning?

Blended learning caters to different learning styles, increases student engagement in the classroom (because technology is fun), and allows students to experience unique learning activities. Blended learning models also allow students to develop digital literacy skills which are increasingly important to colleges and employers.

What is hybrid learning?

Hybrid learning is a combination of in-person and online learning. Students are guided through lessons by their instructor in the traditional classroom, but they mostly learn independently through online material at home. The material learned independently and in person builds upon one another rather than being supplemental.

Hybrid courses typically meet once a week for in-person instruction, but this can vary course-to-course or by school.

What are the benefits of hybrid learning?

With hybrid learning, students can learn on the go and still enjoy learning alongside their peers. By learning on their own, students develop time-management skills, become self-disciplined, and learn independence. Additionally, students can still engage in hands-on learning experiences such as labs.

What's the difference between blended learning and hybrid learning?

The hybrid learning and blended learning models may sound awfully similar at first. The key difference between the two is the method of instruction. Blended learning requires in-person attendance every day. The online material is always supplemental and supports what the student is learning in class.

Hybrid learning, on the other hand, relies on both online and in-person instruction to teach. Online material in hybrid courses is learned independently and replaces in-person teaching.

Odds are, your student is already engaging in some sort of blended learning, but hybrid learning might be more beneficial if your student has a busy schedule.

What about complete online learning?

Online learning can be completely synchronous and asynchronous, meaning students can attend live-taught courses online or learn through online course materials at their leisure. Online schools often offer part-time enrollment so students can experience online learning while attending their schools full-time.

Part-time enrollment at Laurel Springs School

Laurel Springs is the #1 self-paced, mastery-based online K-12 school. We offer part-time or single-course enrollment to support K-12 students on their academic journeys to success. With this kind of enrollment, students can take courses to earn credits, learn something new, or take a course not offered at their school.

Our courses are completely asynchronous, giving busy students the flexibility to learn at any time that works for them. To explore our course offerings, visit our academics or single courses.