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What’s the Difference Between Hybrid Learning and Blended Learning?
posted by: Tamia | March 15, 2021, 10:08 PM   

While we’re not out of the woods yet, the dropping COVID-19 infection rates have started conversations about how schools will reopen with safety measures in place.  Many schools and districts are adopting a gradual reopening plan in which some students will attend classes in-person in their classrooms while others will join their classmates remotely.  We have heard this instructional model referred to as “hybrid learning” and “blended learning”; however, it is important to make the distinction between the two terms as more schools adopt this model. 


In a hybrid learning model, some learning takes place in-person and some takes place remotely.  The hybrid model often serves a logistical purpose instead of offering instructional benefits; in this case, the logistical purpose is student and teacher safety by limiting the number of individuals in a physical classroom.  Since students in the classroom and the students at home are learning the same lesson at the same time, a more precise term for this model is the concurrent hybrid model.


The blended learning model, on the other hand, is one in which all students learn in-person in the classroom while taking advantage of instructional technology to have partial control over the pacing and approach to learning.  In a blended learning classroom, students utilize technology in a variety of formats such as a station rotation model to enhance learning.  Instructional technology is used as a resource to aid learning, not unlike a textbook.  It is a much more powerful resource, however, as it facilitates personalized learning through differentiation, varied prompts, and opportunities for constructivist thinking and collaboration.


Bringing together best practices from in-person instruction and the distance learning experience can lead to a robust blended learning model when students return to school.  Explore ways to develop an effective post-pandemic blended learning program using The Essential Blended Learning PD Planner: Where Classroom Practice Meets Distance Learning.  More information here:


Dr. Stepan Mekhitarian is an AAE member and serves as the Interim Director of Innovation, Instruction, Assessment and Accountability at Glendale Unified School District. He has a wide breadth of experience in classroom and leadership positions and holds degrees from UCLA, Harvard, and Loyola Marymount University.

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