As the field of online education expands, the range of electronically-supported learning and instructional models has also diversified. While researchers and instructors have yet to agree on a common vocabulary for describing technology in education, several broad categories have emerged. Terminologies such as “web-facilitated” and “blending learning” reflect approximate ratios of online content delivery to face-to-face instruction. Unlike face-to-face courses (or “on-ground,” “on-campus” or traditional instruction), where learning experiences take place entirely in the classroom and through face-to-face communication, online education incorporates web-based instructional technologies.

Online Instruction

Online course: An online course offered at UCLA typically refers to a course where the majority of the content, assignments, discussions and interaction are delivered via the Internet. Lecture content is typically broken down into topics and pre-recorded into shorter segments. The course will still require the same amount of effort as its in-person equivalent. It will have deadlines for assignments and may even have in-person exams but in general, students have greater flexibility on when they engage with course materials. As with a traditional class there is still a cohort of students who are taking the course together and there is still an instructor (and possibly a teaching assistant) who is teaching and facilitating the course.

Blended/Hybrid Instruction

Blended Instruction, Hybrid Instruction: In a hybrid course, some elements are delivered online while others are kept in-person. Hybrid instruction is used when a subject or style of instruction is not as effective in a completely online environment. By taking advantage of some online course elements such as pre-recorded lecture content, hybrid instruction can reduce the amount of time a particular course needs to meet in a physical classroom. This type of instruction also supports the "flipped" instructional model.

Flipped/Inverted Instruction

Flipped instruction, Inverted Instruction: Flipped or inverted instruction refers to reversing or challenging practices found in traditional lecture based instruction. Unlike hybrid instruction it does not necessarily reduce the amount of physical classroom time, but rather seeks to rethink and repurpose in-person time to be more effective. One popular flipped classroom technique involves the use of ‘clickers’ to provide quick feedback to instructors who can then alter their presentations on-the-fly in reaction to the feedback.

 Flipped ClassroomBlended or Hybrid Course
Definition"A pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed." (7 Things)A portion of classroom time is replaced by online activities. Classroom time is reduced, but not eliminated.
Teaching and Learning GoalsCombines the best features of face-to-face teaching with the best features of online learning to promote active, independent student learning.
Course Content

Short video lectures viewed by students at home before the class.

In-class time is devoted to exercises, projects, or discussions.

“Online learning activities that may involve chat, discussion boards, quizzes and exercises, simulations, and/or group collaborations.” (Workshop)
Face-to-Face TimeTime in the classroom is repurposed rather than reduced. Face-to-face time remains the same as in a traditional course.Because classroom time is reduced, reduces face-to-face time and provides faculty and students flexible scheduling options for use of their time.
Classroom spaceNot intended to save physical space.Enables innovative ways to utilize physical space through classroom sharing, etc.