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The Teaching and Learning Continuum

The ways in which we deliver teaching and learning can be considered as part of a continuum. The continuum begins with face-to-face teaching without the use of educational technology and at the other end, is fully online distance education. As we move along the continuum from face-to-face teaching, educational technology initially supports, enhances, and eventually replaces face-to-face elements, increasing the impact on course design and the nature of teaching (Bullen, n.d.). In an effort to distinguish the teaching practice, pedagogy, and intention embedded in the various instructional delivery methods on the continuum, the following definitions are considered for use at the University of Guelph and the University of Guelph-Humber.

Face-to-Face Teaching Technology-Enhanced Teaching Web-Enhanced Teaching Blended Learning Distance Education
  Educational technology supports face-to-face teaching Web-based educational technology supports face-to-face teaching Intentional design of face-to-face and online environments Intentional design of the fully-online environment
 

Remote Teaching 

Technology-enhanced face-to-face courses delivered online

   
 

Arrow showing the progression of technology use from face-to-face courses to distance education (with distance education using the most technology).

Technology Use

Adapted from M. Bullen & D. Janes. (Eds.). (2007). Making the transition to e-learning: Strategies and issues. IGI Global. http://doi:10.4018/978-1-59140-950-2. 

Delivery Methods

Face-to-Face Teaching
Face-to-face teaching is an instructional method where curriculum is delivered in person to a group of students, allowing for live interaction between learners and the instructor. Both instructor and students benefit from high levels of interaction afforded by a richer understanding gained through body language and voice.
Technology-Enhanced Teaching
Technology-enhanced teaching is face-to-face teaching that uses one or more educational technologies to support teaching and learning; for example, this might include PowerPoint presentations or the use of a document camera to deliver elements of the curriculum.
Web-Enhanced Teaching
Web-enhanced teaching includes traditional face-to-face teaching and is enhanced by the use of a course website in the institution’s learning management system (CourseLink). Classroom support websites may act as a repository for learning resources and include activities that augment the in-class experience, such as online discussions. 
Remote Teaching 

Remote teaching includes the thoughtful and intentional use of evidence-based pedagogies in technology-enhanced instruction. Often the content from a traditional face-to-face course is transposed to be delivered in a digital format; however, more appropriately, this is an approach that allows instructors to think about course design and effective redesign opportunities for the use of new tools. New technologies may be used to create course assets, activities, student engagement opportunities, and innovative assessments while keeping instructional goals and learning outcomes at the forefront.

Remote teaching is facilitated through educational technologies, largely the institution’s learning management system (LMS), synchronous tools, videos, and other external tools that can connect to the LMS. Generally, materials are presented in a lecture format, similar to that of a face-to-face class, with the virtual environment serving as a repository of course materials and hosting platform to engaging activities. To those unfamiliar with online learning, remote instruction might appear to be synonymous to online and blended forms of learning; however, online courses and blended courses are fundamentally different and designed with the delivery mode in mind. 

Blended Learning 

Blended learning is the thoughtful and purposeful integration of face-to-face and online learning experiences resulting in a synchronous and asynchronous course model and a restructuring of the learning experience. At the University of Guelph, the design of blended courses is supported by a team of instructional designers with expertise in educational theory related to blended learning and educational technology. Blended courses are designed to a set of quality standards, such those outlined in the Quality Matters Higher Education rubric and utilize pedagogical approaches that capitalize on strengths of both face-to-face and online learning environments while maintaining instructional goals.

A blended course combines instructional methods such that 30-70% of the content, activities and assessments are delivered online. The total credit contact hours in blended courses are not altered. Blended courses assess the degree of redundancy in delivering content or engaging students in learning activities to ensure efficient and effective use of time and resources in pedagogically productive ways, without the doubling of learning content.

While the technology of the learning management system supports the architecture of the blended classroom, pedagogy drives the design of courses and the selection of educational technologies. These technologies are carefully chosen based on several criteria, the needs of the learning environment (in-class or online), student learning outcomes and the specific needs of the learners. When technologies are implemented, a significant consideration is given to the student learning experience, technological requirements and instructor and student support. 

Distance Education (Online Learning) 

High-quality distance education (DE) courses are intentionally designed to take full advantage of the affordances of an online format. Distance education courses consider a set of quality standards and a pedagogical approach that accounts for a fully online environment. As the online environment is the classroom, consideration is given to the design of the learning space, including interaction, engagement, usability, accessibility, and presentation. At the University of Guelph, online course development is supported by a team of instructional designers with expertise in educational theory related to online learning and educational technology. A systematic instructional design approach that embeds evidence-based online quality standards such those outlined in the Quality Matters Higher Education rubric guides the development process. Careful consideration is not only given to content but also the support needed for different types of interactions essential to the learning process. Effective online learning aims to foster a learning community and considers student-to-student, instructor-to-student and content-student interactions. Course materials are designed considering universal design principles and aim to be flexible, inclusive and student-centred. This is realized by providing students with options and clear instruction, through the use of language and accessibility standards in content development, and the development of real, rich and relevant learning materials. Course materials are scaffolded, chunked, sequenced and organized according to the pedagogical approach taken. These methodologies ensure students can navigate quickly to course expectations and progress through materials with a level of independence.

While the technology of the learning management system supports the architecture of the online classroom, online pedagogy drives the design of courses and the selection of educational technologies. These technologies are carefully chosen based on several criteria, student learning outcomes and the specific needs of the learners. When technologies are implemented, a significant consideration is given to the online student learning experience, technological requirements and instructor and student support. 

A Continuum of Support

The OpenEd team provides support to instructors teaching with educational technology ranging from self-serve web-based resources, group training, one-to-one consultations on teaching and learning strategies and educational technologies, and full instructional design and web development support (distance education only). CourseLink Support provides technical assistance with the learning management system and is open seven days a week. 

OpenEd Instructor Supports

Face-to-Face Teaching

Technology-Enhanced Teaching

Web-Enhanced Teaching

Blended Learning

Distance Education

 
  • Consultations
  • Group Training
  • Self-Serve Resources
  • Consultations
  • Group Training
  • Self-Serve Resources
  • Consultations
  • Full Course Design Support
  • Full Course Design Support
 
Remote Teaching 
   
 

Arrow showing the progression of technology use from face-to-face courses to distance education (with distance education using the most technology).

Technology Use

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