As institutions of higher education begin to broaden their existing programs and introduce new ones, online learning provides opportunities to reach a wider audience of potential students. More importantly, it offers faculty the opportunity to engage and interact with students in an entirely new way. This table from the Sloan-C document "Learning on Demand: Online Education in the United States, 2009" identifies different delivery formats.
|Percentage of Content Delivered Online||Type of Course||Typical Description|
|0%||Traditional||Course with no online technology used – content is delivered face-to-face.|
|1 to 29%||Web-Enhanced||Course that uses web-based technology to facilitate what is essentially a face-to-face course. May use a learning management system or web pages to post syllabus and assignments.|
|30 to 79%||Blended/Hybrid||Course that blends online and face-to-face delivery. Substantial proportion of the content is delivered online, typically uses online discussions, and has a reduced number of face-to-face meetings.|
|80+%||Online||Course where most or all of the content is delivered online. Typically have no face-to-face meetings.|
Why Is It Important?
- Increased student learning. In hybrid courses, instructors report that they feel more connected with their students and are able to get to know them better since they communicate both online and face-to-face.
- Students who rarely take part in class discussions are more likely to participate online.
- Instructors report that students wrote better papers, performed better on exams, produced higher quality projects, and were capable of more meaningful discussions on course material when reflecting online.
- Teaching a hybrid course transforms the teacher-student relationship to be more centered on student learning.
- Many instructors report that their learning management system has increased their efficiency because of its ability to organize the course and automate some basic activities such as quizzes, grading, and surveys.
- Online education may not work well for those students who require more interaction with a “live” instructor. Students who are organized, self-motivated, and possess a high degree of time management skills are generally more successful in an online course.
- Instructors and students need basic technology experience to participate an online course successfully.
- Building a sense of community can be challenging in an online course. In a face to face course, community develops naturally whereas instructors of online courses should include "getting to know you" activities.
- To teach a successful online or hybrid course instructors will re-examine their course goals and objectives, design online learning activities to meet these goals and objectives, and effectively integrate the online activities with the face-to face meetings.
- Instructors need to rethink traditional methods of assessing student work to take into account the new learning environment.