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Teaching Online
Home » Faculty/Staff » Teaching Online » Online vs Face-to-Face

Online vs Face-to-Face

Although you will need to develop new skills when teaching online for the first time, it is still teaching. Your first course will usually be "wanting," but the experience gets better with each successive course. Communication is the biggest change. It can be intense and frequent. Contrary to expectation, you will often get to know your online students much better than their on-site counterparts.

Changes for Instructors:

Picture of Man with Computer on Lake
  • You become part teacher, part proctor, part technician, part designer/developer
  • Increased workload (excessive at first - later revisions require about 10% more work than a F2F course)
  • Amplified communication (with more student problems - both technical and personal)
  • Communication without body language, voice tone, facial expressions
  • Greater time commitment - as students expect 24/7 contact (but the trade off is at-home convenience)

Changes for Students:

Group of Student
  • More independent, self-motivated, self-initiated learning
  • Become active learners (assuming responsibility for their own success)
  • Need to develop good time-management skills
  • Less emphasis on attendance, more on performance

Changes in Teaching:

Teacher in Front of Class


  • Visualization with a greater variety of techniques
  • More passive - emphasis on facilitation
  • Less giving of information, more guiding of learning
  • More frequent and varied student assessments
  • Need to account for differences in student tech ability
  • Discovery of new types of content, new links for help
  • New solutions to old problems
  • More diverse population (see Characteristics of Distance Learning Students)
Last Updated: 06/13/2018

In Focus

DE vs CEDE vs CE>
Differences between Distance Education and Correspondence Education courses.
Man at Computer with CameraVERSUS>
Diagram of differences in how information is conveyed in online versus in F2F classes.
Excellent 1-hour presentation on the new uses of technology in the classroom.
  • Grossmont
  • Cuyamaca
A Member of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District