In online education, (almost) all teaching and learning takes place online. This means that the transmission of content, the interaction, and the independent practice are all web-based. An online program or course can be done fully and successfully without any offline activities. Although offline activities, such as meet-ups and practice sessions, can be designed in addition to the course, all participants should be able to reach all the set goals without taking part in these offline activities.
Blended teaching has synchronous and asynchronous aspects. The more passive activities and/or the ones that can be executed at one’s own pace take place in an individual online setting (asynchronous). The teacher and students all come together at the same time, in class or online, to spent time on more interactive activities, such as discussions, simulations, and feedback (synchronous). For example, students watch knowledge clips online and prepare a case study in their own time, to later discuss their findings in an interactive online or on-campus seminar.
Hybrid teaching is a synchronous approach. One group of students participates in person (on campus) while at the same time the other group of students participates (individually) online.
Synchronous vs. asynchronous teaching
An important element to consider when choosing the right method is how you want to deliver the content. There are two different ways of delivering content in education:
- Synchronous (same time, same or different place, usually face to face but can be done online). Students are expected to be present at the same time. Usually, it is face-to-face, but it can also be done (partially) online, for example through hybrid teaching.
- Asynchronous (different time, different place, usually online). This gives students control over the time and place of their learning. These activities are usually online, like (homework) assignments.
Synchronous communication will always be important in education, for example when providing feedback or supervising assignments, but adding some asynchronous methods to your course or lectures can have many benefits compared to their synchronous variant. There are many other options available if we start considering asynchronous methods, such as forums, discussions boards, chats, and pre-recorded lectures and presentations. Working with these alternative methods will allow you to spend more time on guiding and teaching your students to become academic professionals.
Note that both synchronous and asynchronous elements can take place online.