Blended or Online?
The move to a totally online course is a considerable step for faculty accustomed to teaching in a traditional face-to-face environment. Online courses, generally defined as any course in which 80% or more of course content is delivered online, are still not widely implemented, particularly in the undergraduate curriculum. Blended courses are typically defined as those that deliver 30-79% of course materials online. Sometimes referred to as hybrids, blended courses strive "to join the best features of in-class teaching with the best features of online learning to promote active independent learning and reduce class seat time" (Virginia Commonwealth University).
Determining whether a course is appropriate for online or blended delivery can be a difficult decision. The following considerations may help determine whether course content allows for effective virtual delivery.
While online courses and programs offer convenience for a wide range of students, programs want to be careful not to sacrifice the benefits that can be gained with face-to-face contact. Many online courses require several on-ground meetings, typically at the beginning and end of the course. For some, the final meeting serves as a final exam period that is proctored, addressing the concern regarding verification of student identity (is the student taking the exam the registered student). Since blended courses provide a mixture of online technologies and face-to-face interaction, content delivery is more flexible. Content in online courses needs to be carefully structured to effectively deliver the course information but also continuously capture student interest.
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