Choosing a Delivery Mode: Online, Hybrid or Open

Find out more about definitions of online, hybrid, and open course delivery here:

One of the most frequent questions from faculty who are considering changing their courses and programs is “How do I choose the best delivery mode for my course?” Coupled with that is “How can I ensure it will be successful?” Both of these are complex questions with multiple answers.

Choosing the ‘best’ option involves many considerations. Start by asking yourself these questions:

1) What are my intended learning outcomes for the course or program?

2) Are there any disciplinary constraints to be aware of (e.g. accreditation from professional bodies, need for lab work, etc.)

3) What is my teaching philosophy and approach? What kinds of interactions do I prefer with my students?

4) What is my experience with teaching and how open am I at this point in my career to exploring new options?

5) Who are my learners - what do I know about the audience of the course

6)What support is available to me for this initiative at the departmental, faculty, and institutional levels:

  • Is this something that has been requested or is it my own personal interest?
  • Is there funding available to help with the design and development phase?
  • Is there technical and pedagogical expertise available to help?
  • Do I need any ongoing support to effectively deliver the course?
  • Is there specific technology I need to be successful?
  • Is this an existing course being redesigned, or is it a brand new course?
  • Is there a problem I am trying to solve with this design/redesign?
  • Do I have time to develop this course?
  • How will potential students find out about my course?
  • How will I evaluate the success of the course and improve it?


The starting point for any course development should always be the learning outcomes. Articulating them as observable or measurable objectives is key to achieving your goals. The Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) has a range of resources to help you write effective learning outcomes.

Once you have your learning outcomes, you should have a clear picture of what you hope your students will get from the course. With that in mind, consider what you want your students to be able to remember or apply from the course in the medium to long term. How will you and your students know if they have achieved the learning outcomes (what assessment practices will you use)? What knowledge and skills do you need to observe in your students, and will you be able to do that in an online class?

Tony Bates (2015) offers some more tips and considerations for choosing a delivery mode in his open access book Teaching in a Digital Age.