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Online teaching

Online teaching

There are many ways to organise online teaching, depending on the course, context, academic objectives, technical possibilities and skills, as well as the students’ qualifications. Like all other forms of teaching, online teaching should be organised to support students’ learning, including the knowledge, skills and competences that will be tested at the exam. This means that the teacher should adapt his or her online teaching to the students, the form of instruction and the study programme. Important considerations include variation, recognisability, activities, attention span and appropriate pacing.    

In online teaching, motivating students can be a challenge, and you may experience that your students are not as engaged in your teaching as usual. Below, you will find examples of how to motivate students online and how to plan engaging online teaching activities.

Online teaching techniques

Online teaching can take many different forms and is referred to in many different ways. Below, we have compiled a list of basic teaching formats and the most common concepts that are useful to know and differentiate between when planning your teaching.

Online and digital teaching concepts

Campus teaching/classroom teaching/face-to-face teaching

Teaching usually takes place in a classroom on campus or at another physical location, with the teacher and the students physically present. Campus teaching often includes use of digital tools and online elements, such as quizzes, polls, Padlet or similar    

Online teaching/webinars

Teaching takes place exclusively online, for example as a stand-alone webinar or an online course. Neither the students, nor the teacher are physically present in the same room, but participate online via their own computers. Online teaching can be organised as synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities, with webinars often taking place as a synchronous activity.  

Read more about webinars and online lectures


Online teaching can also take the form of e-learning, with instruction being organised mainly as asynchronous activities that students complete on their own. E-learning often includes elements such as text reading, video presentations, individual exercises and, if relevant, group communication in chatrooms or other fora. 

Blended learning 

Teaching is a combination of face-to-face and online activities. For example, on a blended course, some teaching sessions may take place exclusively online, while other sessions are conducted as classroom teaching. For the students, activities take place either online or face-to-face. However, a class of students may be split up and attend physical activities at different times, so that everyone is not present at the same time.

Read more about blended learning

Hybrid teaching/parallel teaching  

Teaching takes place both face-to-face and online at the same time. The teacher is often present on campus with some of the students and then streams the lecture to the other students who attend the class online from their own computer. This is referred to as hybrid teaching, parallel teaching and distance learning.

Special considerations must be taken in hybrid teaching, especially with regard to students attending online. For example, teachers must be visible on screen, the sound quality must be good, questions from students must be repeated, and teachers must pay attention to the activity levels of students attending online and to any questions they may ask during the lecture. It may be a good idea to have an assistant present, who pays special attention to the online students and makes sure there is a good video setup in the classroom. 

Hyflex teaching 

HyFlex teaching is a hybrid and flexible format very similar to hybrid teaching because it also involves both face-to-face and online teaching. In HyFlex teaching, students often choose whether they want to attend physically or online. Consequently, some students only participate online and some only attend physically throughout the course (pure online course or pure on-site campus teaching), whereas others alternate between attending online or physically (mimics a blended course for the student). This offers the individual student the greatest possible flexibility.  

Flipped classroom 

Teaching is "flipped" so that activities that usually take place in class and activities that usually take place out of class are reversed. The students spend their preparation time remembering, understanding and familiarising themselves with the academic content, for example by watching or listening to an academic presentation that the teacher has recorded on video or audio. When they meet in class, students then get to discuss, reflect on and otherwise work with the material at a higher taxonomic level.  



Teachers should ask themselves the following questions

 We recommend that teachers take the following into account when planning their online teaching    

  • What activities should the students participate in before, between and after scheduled classes

  • How can you ensure ongoing communication and harmonisation of expectations with your students?
  • How can you make sure that synchronous and asynchronous activities are coordinated in a meaningful way?
  • Which activities can be carried out individually and which would work better in groups?
  • What are the best technological tools to support your classes?    

Further reading


Teaching during a lockdown


Please contact the editors at AU Educate if you have any questions about the content of the platform or if you need consultation on your teaching from one of the many skilled professionals at the Centre for Educational Development