Skip to main content
Teaching & Learning Center

Online Teaching

Resources for hybrid and online courses.

Hybrid Courses/Programs

Combination of traditional face-to-face courses with some significant portions online as well. These courses offer varying components of online, such as forums, assignments, video viewing, and the like. 

Online Courses/Programs

Fully online, with no face-to-face component. All online courses are offered asynchronous, meaning they do not have a "live" component such as web-conferencing with faculty and students. Faculty communicate with students, and students to faculty, via email, Moodle messaging and forums.

Online courses can offer many advantages in terms of flexibility and access:

  • Instruction may take the form of live video streams, pre-recorded video or audio, text, or student exercises embedded within instructional media, or a combination of these.
  • Course development and deployment may be less constrained by the traditional academic calendar.
  • If the course allows for it, students can similarly do their coursework with fewer calendar or schedule constraints.
  • A larger and/or more varied student population may be reached.
  • Online course platforms typically feature data tracking of student access and performance which can aid in learning assessment and educational research.
  • MOOCs in particular provide a "large N", allowing for more fine-grained research opportunities such as assessing differentiated instruction and assessment methods.

However, there are possible downsides to online education; many of these are a consequence of the inevitable limitations of having a network mediating all interactions, the scalability to large numbers of geographically dispersed students, or both:

  • While online platforms can be used to foster active learning by students, they may also induce student passivity if a course relies overmuch on video-based instruction.
  • Interpersonal interactions which occur fairly naturally in a campus setting need to be deliberately engineered online, if they are possible at all.
  • Even simple assignments may require having special tools developed in order for students to do them online.
  • Providing appropriate feedback to students so they can progress in their learning can be a huge logistical and cultural challenge.
  • Best practices (and in many cases, basic ability) to assess student work, especially in non-technical and non-introductory courses, have not yet been determined.
  • The anonymity allowed by only knowing your students and their work through the internet opens up questions of academic integrity and its verification.
  • In principle, relying on an online platform to deliver a course may result in a long-term reduction in workload for the instructor(s), but the initial overhead of setting up an online course is usually much higher than anticipated and the long-term time savings may be more than overcome by ongoing course-management and updating tasks.

Of course, comparing residential and online courses is somewhat of an "apple and oranges" exercise, given the potential large differences in student numbers and demographics.  Your choice to offer a course online will likely be motivated by the opportunity to reach more or different students, or the same students in a different way, rather than by issues of course management.

Online Assessment Webinar

This webinar, Online Assessment Strategies for Online Learning, was cast in April 2013.  If you were unable to attend, here is the recording.


Handouts and playback of webinar included for this 3-part series related to online teaching.