To increase your confidence as an online teacher it is important to understand that the online learning environment is made up of many components. These components can be used individually or simultaneously. The extent to which the components are used reflects the level of ‘onlineness’ a university course or program has. The continuum below depicts how online teaching can have varying levels of online and face-to-face integration.

Online teaching continuum


Many terms have been used to describe teaching styles that occur between the two extremes on the continuum. For example see Allen and Seamen (2007, p. 4). For consistency, this resource will use only three terms to describe the many modes of online teaching. The most important thing to remember is that online teaching can include varying degrees of face-to-face teaching or be fully online and that the modes may be defined or described differently. When planning an online course or a course with online components, decisions about the mode of course delivery are required. Typically, courses can be divided into the following types:

Course type Definition Examples
Fully online course Fully online A Distance Learning course which is conducted and studied completely online. Facilitators and students may not meet in a face-to-face in an on-campus context. Students and facilitators may be located in different countries.
Blended course Using web and face-to-face teaching simultaneously A Masters course with on-campus, off-campus and online components. This is sometimes referred to as a blended course – mixing online and off-line components. Typically, students in such a course will attend on-campus sessions at some time during the semester.
Hybrid course Some online and some on-campus components A course with periods of on-campus lectures and tutorials followed by periods of online activities. Such a course may include long periods of practical teaching and learning periods in remote areas. This could include courses that involve lengthy work placements.

Whatever terms are used to describe an online course or a course with online components, the most important issue is to adopt a mode of course delivery that is most suitable to the context and the students.

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