Lesson 1: Types of Classes


This lesson is an introduction to the basic elements that distinguish between face-to-face, hybrid, and online classes. Advantages and challenges of each type will be explored.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this lesson's material, Faculty will be able to:

  • Describe the different delivery modes of classes here at KVCC
  • Describe the faculty and student expectations associated with each of these types of delivery methods


This course is about teaching online but it is also about the use of technology in teaching and about the concept of time. The distinctions between the different types of classes that are taught here at KVCC have to do with different applications of technology and different approaches to time.

Face-to-Face Classes

Face-to-face (F2F) classes are taught in traditional classrooms, have regular meeting times, and attendance at these meeting times is required. F2F classes are considered to be SYNCHRONOUS.

F2F classes can also have extensive technology involved. Technology can be applied in the classroom or the course can have technology requirements outside the classroom. A good example of this might be a course that meets regularly but administers all exams in Bb.

Online Classes

Online classes, of course, utilize a very high degree of technology. Here at KVCC we deliver our online classes through a Learning Management System (LMS) called Blackboard Learn (Bb).

We use other technologies, such as external websites and materials produced by the publishers of our textbooks, but we interact with our students primarily through Bb.

Technically speaking, in terms of time, online classes are ASYNCHRONOUS. This means that there are no expectations that the class is going to "meet" at a particular time and/or place (even online). The students can engage the material at any time and participate fully in the class. Even communicating with other students can be done asynchronously through the use of specific tools in Bb.

This does not mean that we can't have "optional" meeting times...office hours, online lectures, online tutoring sessions, etc. But they are not REQUIRED for the student to successfully complete the class. We also require that all the work that needs to get done for a class happens within the semester in which the course is being offered. In this respect the class is somewhat synchronous.

Hybrid Classes

While hybrid classes may seem to be "the best of both worlds" it is more safe to say that it is simply "both worlds"! Hybrid classes have both online (asynchronous) and F2F (synchronous) components. Technically speaking, an otherwise online class that requires students to meet ONCE to take a final exam is actually a hybrid class!

At KVCC some good examples of hybrid classes include many of the online science classes that require F2F lab time and the communication classes that only meet periodically for the "public speaking" or "speech" aspects of the class.

Advantages and Disadvantages

To compare these different delivery formats you have to really focus on the two aspects of the class that I mentioned at the beginning...technology and time.


First we can talk about technology. For the sake of this particular training we are going to focus on the use of online technologies such as Bb and other online resources. (There are other types of technologies, such as videos and response clickers, that are used in classrooms but those are beyond the scope of this training).

Regardless of the type of class you are delivering, you have the option to incorporate online technologies. There are specific advantages of using these technologies.

Advantages of Using Technology

  • You can utilize a variety of tools to enhance communication with your students
  • You can extend learning beyond the classroom with access to external resources
  • Material not covered in class can be covered online
  • Testing can be individualized
  • Communication, assessment, and interactions are all documented
  • Online materials may support specific learning styles among your students
  • Feedback on student work is faster
  • Grading can be automated, thus reducing work for the Faculty
  • Material can be recycled from semester to semester
  • Participation in class appears to be more anonymous and thus can increase interactions

Disadvantages of Using Technology

  • Students need to have specific pre-requisite skills
  • Students need to have specific pre-requisite hardware/software/connectivity
  • Online technologies assume the student is a skilled reader
  • Navigation (finding things) can be confusing and can be a barrier to learning
  • Technological failures inhibit learning and decrease learner satisfaction
  • Unskilled teachers using technology is a recipe for disaster
  • "Cool Technology" does not correlate with increased "Learning Outcomes"


The second area we want to look at is time. We have a choice to make components of our classes either asynchronous or synchronous. Let's examine the advantages and disadvantages of each of these.

Advantages of Asynchronous Learning

  • Students have the flexibility to access course material at any time and virtually any place
  • Asynchronous expectations offer fewer barriers for students who work or have other commitments
  • Students have more time to think about their participation and can be more reflective
  • Students do not feel the embarrassment or pressure to perform while others are "watching"
  • The focus is on individual student performance
  • There are more opportunities for more students to participate
  • Asynchronous dialogue is of a higher quality and greater depth than synchronous dialogue
  • Due to the potential ability for putting much thought into a post, online discussions can be very engaging

Disadvantages of Asynchronous Learning

  • Students are required to have skills utilizing the technology
  • Support for technical problems may not be available when the student is participating
  • There can be an increased sense of distance from other students and from Faculty
  • It is difficult to discern which students may need help or are not understanding
  • Procrastination on the part of the student can create a number of practical and pedagogical problems
  • Building a sense of community among the students is challenging

Advantages of Synchronous Learning

  • Interactions are in real time and potentially dynamic
  • Student leaders have the opportunity to lead
  • Synchronous meetings provide a pace and structure to the class that may otherwise be absent
  • Faculty can better gage student understanding of the material
  • Faculty are better able to address errors and inappropriate communication when it happens
  • Feedback (positive or negative) is more immediate and more effective
  • Synchronous meetings can do a lot to build a sense of community

Disadvantages of Synchronous Learning

  • There may be technical and time-management related barriers that inhibit participation
  • Quality of audio, video, and text interactions may be low
  • Bandwidth issues may cause software failure
  • Rules and procedures may need to be repeated and refined taking away from class time
  • Students have to be more aware of the environment in which they are learning (i.e. kennel the dog)
  • Student may be inhibited from participation due to reduced anonymity

As you can see, there are lots of things to consider when you are thinking about teaching online (or when you are thinking of applying technology to your classroom).

Think about it...

Do you believe that there are some topics or some classes that simply cannot (or should not) be taught online? Why? What sorts of technological solutions could potentially be used to correct enable these topics to be taught online. Discuss the advantages to teaching these topics in a F2F, hybrid, or online format.


Lesson 1 Discussion

Use this discussion to ask questions about this lesson and to discuss the content.

Lesson 1 Quiz

Answer the following questions:

  1. Review the delivery modes for courses at KVCC. Select a topic or content area in your field of expertise and describe the advantages and disadvantages (challeges) to teach that topic or content area in each of the modes of delivery (face-to-face, hybrid, online).
  2. Review the content above regarding Technology and Time. What are your expectations for your student's experience and skill level in regard to technology and time? What expectations do you think they have when they enter your class?