Remote versus Online Instruction

Remote instruction is most often a solution to facilitating a course curriculum in times of face-to-face class interruptions (e.g., a scheduled absence, a snow day or an emergency). Instruction is designed in a responsive manner by Instructors and often delivered through Instructor’s preferred technology to, under the circumstances, best meet course outcomes. Typically, content and activities are developed incrementally and added regularly based on the progress of instruction. Facilitating a course remotely in this manner helps provide continuity during a loss off face-to-face class time. When face-to-face instruction resumes the technology may continue to be used to a lesser degree to help students achieve the learning outcomes.

Online instruction is the facilitation that occurs in a course that has been developed with the intention for fully online delivery. Instructional experiences are designed in a planned manner, over weeks and months, most often with support of an instructional designer and a media services team. The learning experiences and instructional objects in an online course are typically fully-developed before the start of a semester. These courses incorporate various instructional strategies and educational technologies that allow students to meaningfully interact with course content, the instructor and fellow students, while still allowing some flexibility in the students’ schedule. 

In short, remote teaching occurs when the instructor, transition the delivery of an on-campus course to online. An online course, however has been purposely designed for online teaching using online learning design principles. The table below illustrates some differences between these modes of course delivery.

Table: Remote versus Online Course Delivery

RemoteFully Online
Design philosophy By Instructor with some support; learning experience varies depending on the instructor’s level of expertise with learning technologies.Instructor as content author supported by instructional designer and media support; various technologies are considered to facilitate a self-directed learning experience.
Development frameworkOften developed week-by-week, with consideration of the overall course plan.Fully developed at the start of the course; may go through multiple iterations before development is considered complete.
Delivery of instructionAsynchronous (i.e. recorded lectures) OR synchronous (i.e. real-time classes in the web conferencing applications).Primarily asynchronous; some synchronous components.
Student preparednessStudents may be less technologically prepared, with access to a mobile device only and limited connectivity in their homes; instructional planning should reflect these limitations.Students know from the onset that all instruction will happen online, so likely have access to the technology that enables them to actively engage in the learning experience.
Learning Management System useGeneral use of system to communicate with students, relay course content, and administer assessments and grades.Advanced use of tools and components to facilitate social interaction of class and learning activities.
Instructor presenceMirrors expectations of face-to-face instruction.Students are expected to be self-directed with regular check-ins by Instructor to monitor progress and provide feedback.
Interactions with classmatesPeriodic; often instructor initiated.Interaction is built into learning activities; addition of defined spaces within the learning environment for social interaction.

You can find information about technologies to use in remote teaching here on the Instructional Resources site.


Resource created by Ruth H., & Jane C.