Defining online, open, and hybrid teaching
There are wide range of potential delivery modes for learning and teaching available to instructors and students in modern universities, most of which rely at least to some extent on technology-enabled learning and teaching practices. Some approaches use reduced face to face class time with more learning facilitated online, others are fully online, some have synchronous and asynchronous components, while others still just utilise technology to enhance learning.
The University of Windsor currently offers over 200 online and hybrid courses that attract over 10,000 registrants annually across all disciplines and at all levels from non-credit to graduate. The majority of UWindsor students will take an online or hybrid course at some point during their studies.
It is helpful to understand the range of possibilities available to you, and what they mean, before attempting to decide on an appropriate approach for your course.
In 2015, the Online Learning Consortium proposed definitions for seven commonly used delivery modes. These include:
Classroom Course: Course activity is organized around scheduled class meetings in a physical location (usually on campus)
Synchronous Distributed Course: Web-based technologies are used to extend the classroom to students at remote sites in real time
Web-Enhanced Course: Online course activity complements class sessions without reducing the number of required class meetings
Hybrid (also called Blended) Classroom Course: Online activity is mixed with classroom meetings, replacing a significant proportion of, but not all face-to-face instructional activities
Hybrid (also called Blended) Online Course: Most course activity is done asynchronously online, but there are some required live online or face-to-face instructional activities, such as lectures, discussions, labs, or other in-person learning activities
Online Course: All course activity is done online; there are no required face-to-face sessions within the course and no requirements for on-campus activity
Flexible Mode or Multi-Access Course: Offers multiple delivery modes so that students can choose which delivery mode(s) to use for instructional and other learning purposes.
The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities defines two broad delivery modes: Hybrid and Online. Their definitions of these modes are listed below:
Fully Online Learning and Synchronous Conferencing
A Fully Online Learning (asynchronous) course is a form of distance learning delivered to individuals with access to the Internet, either at home, work or through an access centre. Although courses may have a set start date and set due dates for assignments, students can otherwise access and participate in courses at times and places of their own choosing. The online component is typically over 80% of the total delivery. For example, a fully online course may include occasional face-to-face meetings, a proctored exam, etc. with the remainder of the content delivered online.
A Synchronous Conferencing course is delivered through audio and video conferencing to provide synchronous communications (i.e., at the same time) between an instructor at one site and students at other sites. Conferencing can make use of the public telephone system (ISDN), dedicated wideband networks or the Internet. A course is considered to be offered via synchronous conferencing if 80% or more of the content is delivered this way. For example, a synchronous conferencing course may have occasional face-to-face meetings, a proctored exam, etc. with the remainder of the content delivered through audio and video conferencing.
A Hybrid Learning course is a course where face-to-face teaching time is reduced, but not eliminated, to allow students more time for online study. This model comes in a number of formats; however the online component is typically 50%-80% of the total course delivery. In this case, a hybrid learning course may have components delivered via traditional face-to-face; however, over half the course delivery should be online.
A Hybrid Learning program is a program in which 80% or more of its courses are hybrid learning courses.
A Fully Online Learning (asynchronous) program describes a program, which is considered to be fully online if 80% or more of its courses are fully online courses. As an example, suppose a program consisted of 10 courses where: 8 courses are delivered fully online and 2 courses are delivered via traditional face-to-face. In this case, 80% of courses in the program are fully online, and the program is defined as a fully online program.
A Synchronous Conferencing program describes a program, which is considered to be offered via synchronous conferencing if 80% or more of its courses are delivered via synchronous conferencing and 2 courses are delivered via traditional face-to-face. In this case, 80% of courses in the program are delivered via synchronous conferencing, and the program is defined as a synchronous conferencing program.