Chapter 13: Ensuring quality teaching in a digital age

13.4 Step two: what kind of course or program?


Figure 10.1.2 The continuum of technology-based teaching
Figure 13.4.1 The continuum of technology-based teaching (from Chapter 11)

13.4.1 Choosing mode of delivery

Determining what kind of course in terms of the mix of face-to-face and online teaching is the natural next step after considering how you want to teach a course. This topic has been dealt with extensively in Chapter 11, so to summarise, there are four factors or variables to take into account when deciding what ‘mix’ of face-to-face and online learning will be best for your course:

  • your preferred teaching philosophy – how you like to teach (see Step 1)
  • the needs of the students (or potential students)
  • the demands of the discipline
  • the resources available to you.

Although an analysis of all the factors is an essential set of steps to take in making this decision, in the end it will come down to a mainly intuitive decision, taking into account all the factors. This becomes particularly important when looking at a program as a whole, rather than on an individual course basis.

13.4.2 Who should make the decision?

While individual instructors should be heavily involved in deciding the best mix of online and face-to-face teaching in their specific course, it is worth thinking about this on a program rather than an individual course basis. For instance, if we see the development of independent learning skills as a key program outcome, then it might make sense to start in the first year with mainly face-to-face classes, but gradually over the length of the program introduce students to more and more online learning, so that the end of a four year degree they are able and willing to take some of their courses fully online.

Certainly every program should have a mechanism for deciding not only the content and skills or the curriculum to be covered in a program, but also how the program will be delivered, and hence the balance or mix of online and face-to-face teaching throughout the program. This should become integrated into an annual academic planning process that looks at both methods of teaching as well as content to be covered in the program (see Bates and Sangrà, 2011).


Bates, A. and Sangrà, A. (2011) Managing Technology in Higher Education San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/John Wiley and Co

Activity 13.4 Which mode of delivery?

If you did not do Activities 11.2, 11.3, 11.4, go back and do them now.

If you have done these activities, review your answers in terms of deciding on the best mix of face-to-face and online teaching for your course.

There is no feedback provided for this activity.


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Teaching in a Digital Age: Third Edition - General Copyright © 2022 by Anthony William (Tony) Bates is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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