Digital Learning & Design

Student looking at screen

You will likely be teaching either an online or hybrid course. Please read on for a definition of what each entails.

Should you have questions, please email [email protected].

Online Learning*: is an instructional approach conducted via the computer and/or the Internet in which neither the students nor the instructors meet in-person at any point during the course. Therefore, no Brown classroom is needed for face-to-face course sessions. Instructors and students may meet virtually at a scheduled time using Zoom.

There are two main types of online learning:

  • Remote Learning (or Synchronous Learning): a learning approach in which learning occurs in different locations, but at the same time for all students.  This approach allows students to engage live with the instructor and other class participants through web conferencing software such as Zoom.
  • Asynchronous Learning: an instructional approach conducted via the Internet in which neither the students nor the instructors meet in-person or remotely for class sessions at any point during the course. Participation is conducted asynchronously via Canvas, so students can complete work when it suits their schedule. For example, instructors can use Canvas Discussions to foster student interaction. Though the class as a whole will not meet for synchronous sessions, instructors and students may meet virtually for office hours.

*Brown’s definition for Online Learning is aligned with the U.S. Department of Education’s definition of distance education.

Hybrid Learning (or Blended Learning): is an instructional approach that includes a combination of online and in-person activities. In a hybrid learning environment, the online and the in-person components of the course integrate with one another in a cohesive manner. The activities completed online complement those undertaken in the classroom.  A Brown classroom is needed for face-to-face sessions with an instructor or teaching assistant.

When designing a hybrid course, please keep the following in mind: 

  • Remote students should be able to participate in in-person activities; this often means the addition of Zoom web conferencing to classroom activities.  
  • Not all remote students will be able to participate in in-person activities. It is therefore important to add asynchronous online activities, such as Canvas Discussions, as an alternative means of meeting learning objectives. This is preferable to distributing discussion recordings. 

Examples of Hybrid Learning include: 

  • The use of the “flipped classroom” model, in which students read texts, watch videos, or complete online assignments before attending a face-to-face session.
  • The instructor (or teaching assistant) meets students face-to-face and then supplements those sessions with online asynchronous activities.
  • The instructor builds in online components to supplement the face-to-face component as circumstance necessitates. 
  • The instructor teaches a course face-to-face while also ensuring remote participants can engage with these synchronous sessions via Zoom and/or asynchronous Canvas modules. Classroom technology is being enabled to facilitate this.