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Teaching Languages Online

Definitions and Terms

Who's talking about what has been part of the confusion when talking about teaching online, or teaching at a distance, or do you mean asynchronous networked courses? Here are some of the commonly used terms with our definitions and some sources that may support - or contradict us!

Online course – 80% or more of the course is online (delivered by networked computer) – re SLOAN-C- with the idea being that some courses are taught entirely online but require face-to-face for exams.

Distance teaching/learning – when the teacher is not in the same room as the student.  This would include online courses, videoconferencing, and traditional correspondence courses.

Hybrid/blended – we’ve seen this used in two different ways: 
1) Focus on the content/delivery where sometimes the student is in class face-to-face and sometimes the student is getting content online and they drop F2F meetings for the online content.   
2) Focus on the student/teacher where a synchronous teaching situation includes some students in the room with the teacher and other students at a remote site.

Videoconferencing – delivered through synchronous video – although this term has gotten confounded now because it could mean using a special hardware system like the Polycom or it could be through a computer internet system like Elluminate or AdobeConnect (networked computer).  

Synchronous - happening at the same time, live. Examples: Elluminate sessions, Skype video chat.

Asynchronous - content stays so people can access whenever, not live. Examples: email, discussion board, wiki.

Semi-synchronous - "almost live" but not quite synchronous. Examples: texting, instant messaging.


So pick your definitions and let people know exactly what you are looking for!
Things tend to be quite different between K-12 and higher ed – are you looking at both?

Higher Ed
Here are definitions from the the SLOAN-C's most recent report (p. 7) for higher ed:

“Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning” yearly report:
They have a lot of explanation about definitions and “programs” that you should look at – p. 8-11

You may also want to pick up iNACOL’s “Online Learning Definitions Project” PDF



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Last Modified: February 14, 2014 at 16:58