Understanding Online Learning Formats

Did you know that online learning can occur in different formats? Yes, the same way that different instructors use different teaching approaches in the classroom, they would also utilize different teaching approaches online. You can also think of it this way – as students learn in different ways, teachers would also teach in different ways, whether it is in the classroom or online. The infographic below highlights some of the different formats that learning can occur in.

When choosing an online teaching approach, there are various factors that an instructor would consider that can help them achieve an effective educational experience for students. Some of these considerations may include the complexity of the course concepts, pedagogy, the expected learning goals and outcomes, the degree of student interactions planned for the course, technological affordances of the tools available and more. This also contributes to Why Face-to-Face Courses Don’t Necessarily Translate Directly into an Online Format. Hence, each online course will vary from the next. It is important that students recognize and understand these variances to help them make decisions on the type of online course they would like to take and to prepare themselves for each online learning experience. The video Understanding Online Learning with Dr. Kim MacKinnon provides some insights on the key benefits of online learning, different online learning formats and important considerations for teaching and learning online. 

Some research on online learning formats and considerations

Mann, A., Avery, T., Hughes, R., & Cooper, K. (2019, April). Welcome to Online Learning: Pedagogy and Practice in Instructor-Generated Videos. Paper session presented at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Toronto, ON.

Oztok, M. & Brett, C. (2011). Social presence and online learning: A review of the researchThe Journal of Distance Education, 25(3), 1-10.

Phirangee, K., Demmans Epp, C., & Hewitt, J. (2017, April). Community in Online Courses: The Roles Played By Course Length, Course Facilitation Methods, and Student Actions. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Antonio, TX.

Depres-Bedward, A., Avery, T., & Phirangee, K. (2018, May). Student Perspectives on the Role of the Instructor in Online Learning. Paper session presented at the meeting of the International Conference on Educational and Information Technology, Cambridge, UK.

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