The following glossary is intended to provide working definitions for key terms related to online teaching and learning, informed by scholarly literature and experts in the field of higher education. Because it is the nature of terms to evolve semantically over time and contexts, these definitions will be updated as frequently as possible to reflect the ongoing transformation of online modalities.

Click on the terms below to view each definition.

A delivery modality for online courses in which work and participation requirements may take place at different times. Asynchronous courses can be time-constrained (i.e. over a semester, term, quarter, or so on), but elements of the coursework and learning materials would be available with a degree of flexibility rather than only offered at a specific time. A synchronous 1-hour webinar that is recorded and made available for later viewing to students who were unable to attend is an example of asynchronous delivery. Asynchronous courses may follow a weekly schedule and require due dates, however, students are free to engage with course materials on their own schedule.

See also: Online Learning

Resources:

Hrantinski, S., (2008). Asynchronous and synchronous e-learning. EDUCAUSE Quarterly, 31(4). Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2008/11/asynchronous-and-synchronous-elearning

OTL Blog, Structuring your time in an online course

Blended learning environments are those that include both face-to-face and computer-mediated learning activities (Graham, 2006; Porter et al., 2014). While some education researchers and practitioners use the terms “hybrid” and “blended” interchangeably, the distinction we are making is that while hybrid courses always involve a reduction in face-to-face time – that is, they replace some of the face-to-face time with web-based learning activities – blended courses do not necessarily involve a reduction in face-to-face time (for instance, they may have students engage in some online activities while physically present during face-to-face class meetings, or may have students engage in web-based learning as part of their out-of-class homework). So, while all hybrid courses are blended (in that they involve both face-to-face and online instruction), it is possible to have a blended course that is not hybrid course if there is not a reduction in face-to-face meeting time.

See also: Hybrid

Resources:

Graham, C. R. (2006). Blended learning systems. The handbook of blended learning: Global perspectives, local designs, 3-21.

Porter, W. W., Graham, C. R., Spring, K. A., and Welch, K. R. (2014). Blended learning in higher education: Institutional adoption and implementation. Computers & Education, 75, 185-195.

See Hy-Flex.

The University of Denver’s primary Learning Management System (LMS) providing a secure online environment for virtual classrooms. Faculty can use Canvas to teach all or part of their courses by using it for course communication, sharing readings, lectures and videos, creating discussion boards for interaction with students, receiving assignments and submitting feedback, and accessing tools such as Zoom and Kaltura.

See also: Learning Management System

Resources:

OTL Knowledge Base, Canvas

A delivery modality for education that occurs when learners and educators are not in the same location. Distance learning differs from online learning in that materials are provided most often by physical mail (although sometimes electronically as well) rather than through a Learning Management System (LMS), and interactions are initiated by the student in a self-paced structure rather than to a course calendar or schedule set by the instructor. Distance learning originated prior to the digital age, and provides the basis for many of the online delivery strategies used today.

See also: Online Learning

Resources:

Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), (2020). FAQ General, what is distance education? Retrieved from https://www.deac.org/Discover-DEAC/FAQ-General.asp

OTL Website, Resources for teaching at a distance 

Usually implemented in rapidly changing landscapes with differing needs and limitations and involving a “temporary shift of instructional delivery to an alternate delivery mode due to crisis circumstances” (Hodges et al., 2020, p. 6). Emergency Remote Teaching involves little to no course design over a period of days up to a few weeks, with suboptimal implementation. Development requires triage and focus on providing the “bare minimum.” The objective is not to re-create a robust educational ecosystem, but rather to provide temporary access to instruction and instructional supports in a manner that is quick to set up and is reliably available.

Resources:

Hodges, C., Moore, S., Lockee, B., Trust, T., & Bond, A. (2020). The difference between emergency remote teaching and online learning. Educause Review. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2020/3/the-difference-between-emergency-remote-teaching-and-online-learning

OTL Website, Resources for teaching at a distance

Electronic collections of artifacts that are typically used to showcase the interests, goals, and achievements of individuals and/or groups. Simply using an ePortfolio as a method for sharing work is associated with positive gains, but not nearly as many as when they are paired with reflective work and implemented as a High Impact Practice (HIP). Check out this article from AAC&U for more information about the learning theories behind ePortfolios as a HIP – “Reflective e-Portfolios: One HIP to Rule Them All?

See also: High Impact Practices

Resources:

AAC&U – Association of American Colleges & Universities, (2017). High-Impact Educational Practices: A brief overview. Retrieved from https://www.aacu.org/leap/hips 

Tobin, H., (2018). Five ways to use ePortfolios for reflection. The Teaching Professor.

Tobin, H., (2018). ePortfolios for Reflection: 7 best practices. Retreived from https://otl.du.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/BestPractices_ePortfoliosforReflection1.pdf

Kuh, G. D., Watson, C. E., Rhodes, T., Penny Light, T., and Chen, H. L. (2016). Editorial: ePortfolios – The Eleventh High Impact Practice. International Journal of ePortfolio, Vol. 6, No. 2. Retrieved from http://www.theijep.com/pdf/IJEP254.pdf

OTL Blog, ePortfolios as a High Impact Practice

OTL Website, Reflective ePortfolios

Equity-Mindedness refers to the perspectives of those who call attention to patterns of inequity in student outcomes. In practice, these are educators who are willing to take personal and institutional responsibility for the success of their students, and critically reassess their own practices. Equity-Mindedness requires educators to be race-conscious and aware of the social and historical context of exclusionary practices in American Higher Education.

Resources:

Adapted from Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), (2020). Making excellence inclusive. Retrieved from https://www.aacu.org/making-excellence-inclusive

University of Southern California, Center for Urban Education: https://cue.usc.edu/about/equity/equity-mindedness/

A term that is often used interchangeably with ‘open,’ ‘distance,’ or ‘e-learning.’ Casey and Wilson (2005) provide a framework for differentiating true flexible learning as including the following 5 key characteristics:

  • Time – can include options for when to start or finish a course, when to interact with course content and/or submit assignments, the pace a learner uses to progress through the course, or when assessments will occur.
  • Content – can include options for which topics to explore, the sequence for the course, key learning materials, types of orientations (i.e. theoretical or practical), and completion requirements.
  • Entry Requirements – can include conditions or expectations for participation.
  • Instructional Approaches and Resources – can include social interaction (group or individual), language used, resource origin (websites, library, textbooks, etc.), and instructional organization of learning (i.e. feedback, monitoring, etc.).
  • Delivery and Logistics – can include modality of content delivery and interaction (face-to-face, blended, hybrid, or online), time where student to instructor interaction can take place, technology required, types of help available, and location for participation (classroom, library, home, etc.).

The continuum of each characteristic/dimension of this framework represents a shift from teacher-led instruction to learner-led in reflection of constructivist approaches to teaching which allows learners to exercise some control over their individual experiences (Casey & Wilson, 2005). A flexible learning course provides learners with options for time, content, and entry/access while simultaneously providing educators with options for instructional approach and delivery.

See also: Distance Learning; Hy-Flex

Resources:

Casey, J., & Wilson, P. (2005). A practical guide to providing flexible learning in further and higher education. Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). Retrieved from https://www.enhancementthemes.ac.uk/docs/ethemes/flexible-delivery/a-practical-guide-to-providing-flexible-learning-in-further-and-higher-education.pdf?sfvrsn=1c2ef981_8

A collection of research-based teaching and learning strategies shown to increased retention, completion, and satisfaction rates of students when done well (Kuh, et. al, 2016). The list of 11 High Impact Practices (HIPs) includes:

  • First-Year Experiences
  • Common Intellectual Experiences
  • Learning Communities
  • Writing Intensive Courses
  • Collaborative Assignments
  • Undergraduate Research
  • Diversity and Global Learning
  • ePortfolios
  • Service Learning/Community Based Learning
  • Internships
  • Capstone Courses and Projects

Many of these practices can translate to an online or hy-flex setting. However, it is vital that efforts continue to meet the standards of an effectively implemented HIP regardless of the delivery modality. When done well, HIPs include each of the following elements:

  • Considerable time and effort requirements for students
  • Facilitated learning outside of the classroom (real-world applications and relevance is highlighted)
  • Meaningful interactions between faculty and students
  • Collaboration across disciplines and cultures (experience diversity)
  • Frequent and substantive feedback
  • Reflection and integrative learning opportunities

Several studies, including the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) report published in 2007, show that participation in HIPs leads to: greater persistence rates, GPA increases, deeper approaches to learning, more student-faculty interaction, improved critical thinking and writing skills, greater appreciation for diversity, and increased student engagement.

See also: ePortfolios

Resources:

AAC&U – Association of American Colleges & Universities, (2017). High-Impact Educational Practices: A brief overview. Retrieved from https://www.aacu.org/leap/hips

Hobbs, P. and Kropp, E. – Faculty Focus, (2018). Leveraging High-Impact Practices at the Course Level.

Kuh, George D. (2008). High-impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter. AAC&U, Washington, D.C.

NSSE – National Survey of Student Engagement, (2007). High-Impact Practices. Retreived from http://nsse.indiana.edu/html/high_impact_practices.cfm

Kuh, G. D., Watson, C. E., Rhodes, T., Penny Light, T., and Chen, H. L. (2016). Editorial: ePortfolios – The Eleventh High Impact Practice. International Journal of ePortfolio, Vol. 6, No. 2. Retrieved from http://www.theijep.com/pdf/IJEP254.pdf 

OTL Website, High Impact Practices

DU defines a hybrid course as one in which “online instruction is combined with face-to-face instruction, where a substantial portion of face-to-face instruction is replaced by online instruction.” While there is some debate among education researchers regarding what the exact ratio of face-to-face vs. online time should be for a course to be considered hybrid, what we like about DU’s definition is that is allows ample space for instructors to be innovative in leveraging the unique opportunities of the hybrid approach to provide a high-quality learning experience for students. Key to the success of the hybrid approach is the integration between the face-to-face and online components, and the extent to which it makes the most of the affordances of the online and face-to-face environments to improve student learning and engagement. Check out the videos that were created for DU’s Hybrid 3D workshop to learn more about the hybrid approach and the opportunities it provides to improve student learning and engagement.

See also: Blended

Resources:

Caulfield, J., (2011). How to Design and Teach a Hybrid Course: Achieving Student-Centered Learning through Blended Classroom, Online and Experiential Activities. Stylus Publishing.

Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., and Baki, M., (2013). The effectiveness of online and blended learning: A meta-analysis of the empirical literature. Teachers College Record, 115(3), 1-47.

Riffell, S.K., and Sibley, D. F., (2004). Can hybrid course formats increase attendance in undergraduate environmental science courses? Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, 33, 1-5.

Courses that are designed to be multi-modal such that each student can choose their mode of engagement in the course – that is, students can choose to attend face-to-face meetings in person or participate fully online, and can choose to go back-and-forth between these different modes of participation throughout the duration of the course (Beatty, 2014; Miller et al., 2013; Sowell et al., 2019). There are different ways in which institutions/instructors have approached this. In some cases, a class is conducted for the most part as if it were a regular face-to-face class, where cameras and microphones are set up in the room and students have the option of viewing/participating in class activities in person or remotely (via Zoom or some other technology). Other institutions have focused on creating equivalent learning experiences for both online and face-to-face students such that students do not have to participate in synchronous in-class activities at all (rather, instructors design asynchronous online learning activities that allow online students to achieve the same learning outcomes as those students who attend face-to-face class meetings). For a discussion of the important trade-offs to consider in determining which approach best suits a particular context, see this article in Inside Higher Ed.

See also: Asychronous Online; Synchronous Online

Resources:

Beatty, B. (2014). Hybrid courses with flexible participation: The HyFlex course design. Practical applications and experiences in K-20 blended learning environments, 153-177. IGI Global.

Beatty, B. J. (2019). Hybrid-Flexible Course Design: Implementing student-directed hybrid classes. EdTech Books. Retrieved from https://edtechbooks.org/hyflex

Miller, J., Risser, M., and Griffiths, R. (2013). Student choice, instructor flexibility: Moving beyond the blended instructional model. Issues and trends in educational technology, 1(1), 8-24.

Sowell, K., Saichaie, K., Bergman, J., & Applegate, E. (2019). High Enrollment and HyFlex: The Case for an Alternative Course Model. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 30(2), 5-28.

The active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity—in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum, and in communities (intellectual, social, cultural, geographical) with which individuals might connect—in ways that increase awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication, and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions. Online learning environments pose unique challenges to inclusion.

See also: Equity-Mindedness

Resources:

Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), (2020). Making excellence inclusive. Retrieved from https://www.aacu.org/making-excellence-inclusive

OTL Blog, Inclusive teaching in online courses

OTL Blog, Mitigating increasing inequity as we move online

This refers to classes that meet on a regularly scheduled basis, characterized by in-person instruction and physical attendance. F2F courses may use aspects of online teaching, such as the tools available in a Learning Management System (LMS), to enhance the student experience and reduce paper waste. LMS tools that allow the instructor to collect course artifacts, administer assessments, provide access to the syllabus, course calendar, and grades are frequently used in tandem with F2F courses (Rhode, et al., 2017).

See also: Learning Management System

Resources:

Rhode, J., Richter, S., Gowen, P., Miller, T., & Wills, C. (2017). Understanding faculty use of the learning management system. Online Learning, 21(3) 68-86. doi: 10.24059/olj.v%vi%i.121. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1154161.pdf

A video management campus-wide software tool, recently adopted by DU. Kaltura is integrated with Canvas to allow instructors to capture and share videos with their students.

Resources:

OTL Knowledge Base, Kaltura

DU LibGuide, Guide to using media in courses

Learner-centered teaching is a balance between students who are empowered to control their learning and faculty who employ the best teaching strategies (Weimer, 2013). Implementing a learner-centered approach in online or face-to-face courses requires the consideration of both rigor and flexibility. This can be achieved by keeping Williamson and Blackburn’s (2010) four myths of rigor in mind:

  • Myth: lots of homework signals rigor
  • Myth: rigor means doing more
  • Myth: rigor is not for everyone
  • Myth: providing support lessens rigor

Thus, assignments should be challenging and give students a variety of ways to demonstrate their understanding. The class climate should be supportive and provide scaffolding of the content. The course design should provide students an opportunity to self-assess their work.

The overall goal of a learner-center course is that students are expected to learn how to manage their learning by being engaged, adaptable, and critical thinkers.

Resources:

Weimer, M. (2018). Is my teaching learner-centered? Faculty Focus. Retrieved from https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/teaching-learner-centered/

Williamson, R. & Blackburn, B. R. (2010). Four myths about rigor in the classroom. Eye on Education. http://static.pdesas.org/content/documents/M1-Slide_21_4_Myths_of_Rigor.pdf

A secure online platform for virtual classrooms. Faculty can teach all or part of their courses in this online environment. The primary learning management system at DU is Canvas, though some departments may have additional learning management systems.

See also: Canvas

Resources:

Rhode, J., Richter, S., Gowen, P., Miller, T., & Wills, C. (2017). Understanding faculty use of the learning management system. Online Learning, 21(3) 68-86. doi: 10.24059/olj.v%vi%i.1217, https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1154161.pdf

The iterative and systematic process of collecting and analyzing deliverables from students to reflect upon how faculty are teaching and how students are learning in online environments. In addition to exploring student performance, online assessments consider a multitude of dimensions, such as attitudes toward e-learning platforms and technologies (Hewson & Charlton, 2019); access to sufficient environments and materials for teaching and learning (e.g., solid internet connectivity and updated software); and supportive living environments that create sustained emotional, cognitive, physical, and financial stability (Paguyo & Iturbe-LaGrave, 2020). Online assessment helps faculty pivot and adapt their online pedagogies to facilitate robust student learning and engagement.

Resources:

Hewson, C., and Charlton, J. P., (2019). An investigation of the validity of course‐based online assessment methods: The role of computer‐related attitudes and assessment mode preferences. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 35, 51-60.

Paguyo, C.H., and Iturbe-LaGrave, V., (2020). Inclusive assessment. From Inclusive Teaching Practices website.

Courses that involve careful instructional design and planning, normally taking six-nine months, using a systematic model for design and development. Online courses support different types of interactions like: student-content, student-student, and student-instructor. This encourages learning to be defined as a social and cognitive process. Building a community within your course and opportunities for students to interact with one another and the faculty member is a critical component that sets online learning apart from correspondence courses/distance learning. Also critical to the success of online courses is clear course organization that allows students to easily navigate the online environment.

See also: Distance Learning

Resources:

Darby, F., & Lang, J. (2019). Small teaching online. Jossey-Bass.

Higher Learning Commission, Institutional change: Distance or correspondence education: https://www.hlcommission.org/Accreditation/institutional-change-distance-or-correspondence-education.html

Hodges, C., Moore, S., Lockee, B., Trust, T., and Bond, A. (2020). The difference between emergency remote teaching and online learning. Educause Review. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2020/3/the-difference-between-emergency-remote-teaching-and-online-learning  

OTL Website, Teaching online

The practice, theory, and assessment of online teaching and learning. There are four dimensions of online pedagogy. First, creating activities, artifacts, curricula, and other nontechnical elements of the e-learning environment; second, developing theories that explain aspects of online teaching and learning; third, producing and using technology; and, fourth, assessing the online environment to continually improve opportunities for teaching and learning (Hoadley, 2016).

See also: Online Learning

Resources:

Darby, F., & Lang, J. (2019). Small teaching online. Jossey-Bass.

Hoadley, C., (2016). Online pedagogy from the learning sciences perspective. In C. Haythornthwaite, R. Andrews, J. Fransman, and E. M. Meyers (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of E-learning Research, 2nd ed., pp. 25-42. SAGE.

The changes made for spring 2020 to respond to the need for emergency online teaching has been referred to as “pivoting” by both university administrators and in the popular press (Gannon, 2020). Among offices and centers of teaching and learning, language including “pivot-ready” and “pivotal pedagogy” have cropped up in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to describe building capacity for making quick changes to teaching practice. As many universities work to find creative educational solutions while navigating a pandemic, being highly flexible in one’s approach, in other words, ready to teach in any setting, makes for smoother transitions should the need arise. A critical first step to being “pivot-ready” is ensuring your Canvas container is populated with the basics: syllabus, assignments, assessments, and readings.

Resources:

Gannon, K. (2020, March 12). How to make your online pivot less brutal. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from https://www.chronicle.com/article/How-to-Make-Your-Online-Pivot/248239

A delivery modality for online courses in which work and participation requirements take place at specific times only. A weekly 1-hour webinar that requires participation and is not made available for later viewing is an example of synchronous delivery.

See also: Online Learning

Resources:

OTL Blog, Structuring your time in an online course

Hrantinski, S., (2008). Asynchronous and synchronous e-learning. EDUCAUSE Quarterly, 31(4). Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2008/11/asynchronous-and-synchronous-elearning

A teaching approach that works to accommodate the needs and abilities of all learners by dismantling participation barriers and centering learner viability in curriculum development. Faculty can create goals that promote high expectations for all learners, use flexible methods and materials, and accurately assess student progress by implementing the three principles of Universal Design for Learning in their practice provided by Burgstahler and Cory (2008):

  • Provide multiple means of representation to give students various ways of acquiring, processing, and integrating information and knowledge. For example, using PowerPoint as a visual supplement to your lecture and designating one student to take notes/represent material covered in lecture and share with the class. 
  • Provide multiple means of action and expression to provide students with options for navigating and demonstrating learning. For example, providing students options to demonstrate what they have learned such as essays, poster boards, video recordings, audio recordings, prearranged phone call to instructor, walk and talks, etc. 
  • Provide multiple means of engagement to tap individual learners’ interests, challenge them appropriately, and motivate them to learn. For example, engaging students in both group work activities and individual work, as opposed to engaging students only in individual work.

Resources:

Burgstahler, S., and Cory, R., (2008). Universal design in higher education: From principles to practice. Harvard Education Press.

Rao, K., Edelen-Smith, P., & Wailehua, C. (2014). Universal design for online courses: Applying principles to pedagogy, Open Learning, 30 (1), 35-52. https://doi.org/10.1080/02680513.2014.991300, https://www-tandfonline-com.du.idm.oclc.org/doi/full/10.1080/02680513.2014.991300

CanvasLMS.com, (2020). General accessibility design guidelines. Retrieved from https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-2060.

OTL Website, Accessibility and universal design for learning

A video, audio, and web-conferencing tool that allows people to meet virtually for a class or working session. The tools available within Zoom allow faculty to synchronously interact with students, share their screen, create breakout rooms, and record courses or presentations.

Resources:

OTL Knowledge Base, Zoom

Who to contact?

Contact the Office of Teaching & Learning at (303)871-2084, or email otl@du.edu if you have questions or need assistance.

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