Web-facilitated courses (also technology-enhanced) use new media technologies (see Web 2.0 and Evolving Technologies; Clickers and Laptops in the Classroom) to supplement or enrich otherwise traditional learning experiences. Instructors often use course management systems (see Learning Management Systems) or web pages to post syllabi, calendars of events and assignments, or may use technologies such as video, audio or the Internet to augment course content (see Screencasting, Podcasts and the Flipped Classroom).
In blended or hybrid courses, a substantial amount of course content and material is delivered online and paired with face-to-face course activities, although meetings are sometimes reduced in number.
Online courses (also virtual learning or e-learning), by contrast, deliver the majority of the content, assignments, discussions and interaction via the Internet and include few to no face-to-face instructional meetings. Lecture content is typically broken down into topics and pre-recorded into shorter segments for digital access by students (see Capturing Media for Online Courses). Other requirements of the course, such as peer interaction, projects and digital assignments, are created and/or submitted using instructional technologies. As with face-to-face courses, there is a cohort of students and an instructor (and possibly a teaching assistant) who is teaching and facilitating the course (see Fostering Online Involvement and Communication). Although students have deadlines for assignments and may even have in-person exams, in general, they have greater flexibility vs. traditional courses on when they engage with course materials.
Distance education ordinarily refers to learning experiences in which instruction occurs at separate times and/or places from the student and utilizes different types of instructional materials (Moore, Dickson-Deane & Galyen, 2011). Distance courses often, although not necessarily, incorporate online learning and delivery of materials. It should be noted, however, that these terms will remain fluid and under debate as the field matures. UCLA supports web-facilitated, hybrid and online instructional models.
For further information on pedagogical and instructional technologies, see the “7 Things You Should Know About…Learning Technology Topics” series produced by EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association aiming to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology.