Roles & Presence

Remote Teaching

Roles & Presence

Roles & Presence


For students there are different roles to take on. Some might be individual and passive, while others are group-based and more active. None of these options is better than others, the main difference is that they serve different purposes and will contribute to different outcomes.

To gain a better understanding of the relationship between the roles and the outcomes, it’s important to understand the hierarchy of the cognitive skills, or the so-called Higher and lower order thinking skills by the revised taxonomy of Bloom (2001). The model below shows the different thinking skills from low on the left, to high (on the right). It is important to realize that there is no hierarchy in these skills: they are all as important and can be integrated into learning experiences in any given order.

The roles a student can take on during a learning experience can vary over time. The following roles can be distinguished:

  • Listening is a passive and individual activity, that fits with lower order thinking skills.
  • Reading is a semi-passive activity that is done individually. It is best fit for lower order thinking skills.
  • Working on problems such as assignments or cases is an active role that is done individually as well. This activity is best to use for higher order thinking skills.
  • Playing a game or simulation is an activity that is executed (and sometimes grades) individually, but can be done within a group. This role will help students to improve their higher order thinking skills.
  • Working on a collaborative project is an active, group based role that simulates higher order thinking skills.


Depending on the role your students need to take on to reach their goals, your role can change and in some cases, no presence is needed at all. Below you will find 5 different roles you can take on when teaching in an online or blended session.

  • Lecturer is a very active teaching method. Besides providing the lectures in general, you also have to prepare them. Students often take a more passive role in this setting.
  • Providing Feedback is also an active teaching method. In order to provide good and constructive feedback, you must be familiar with the content your students have provided.
  • Monitoring student progress: due to most Learning Management Systems, this relatively passive activity. You can usually see at a glance which students need more attention and which students are doing well.
  • Providing encouragement is a semi-active activity, based partially on the student's progress. Most things can be relatively standardized (like encouraging emails, or posts at a specific time), however in the case of specific students who might benefit from personal encouragement, this can be a bit more time consuming.
  • No teacher presence is the most passive role possible. In this case your course can be a stand-alone course and you play no part in it after the development, or you might choose not to be present during specific activities or parts of the course.