Considerations for choosing online learning delivery models

online learning delivery models, Considerations for choosing online learning delivery models
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online learning delivery models, Considerations for choosing online learning delivery models

When learning organisations commit to the design and delivery of online courses, they make decisions that reflect their brand promise as a provider of quality learning opportunities in a competitive market.

At Oppida, we believe that there are 3 critical questions that a learning organisation must ask in order to decide on the most effective delivery model. 

  1. Who are we designing this course for and what do they need to succeed?
  2. What are our internal online delivery capabilities and resources?
  3. What is our learning organisation’s value proposition and how can this be leveraged through our online course design and delivery? 

Once established, successful online courses require support for facilitators / academics as well as systems and processes to ensure course integrity, agility and longevity.   

Common ways to think about online learning delivery models

The choice of delivery model can be a complex and multi-faceted decision that is heavily influenced by the learning organisation’s approach to the ‘critical questions’ listed above. 

Online delivery models tend to fall into 3 broad categories of facilitator commitment. These are known as low, medium and high ‘touch’ delivery models, as described in the table below. 

Low Touch

Medium Touch

High Touch

-Minimal and ad hoc facilitator engagement 
-Un-monitored discussion boards
-No synchronous engagement opportunities 
-All active learning components are ‘graded’ by the LMS
-Students have a ‘contact person’ but may wait days for a response





-Facilitators check in daily and sometimes on weekends
-Facilitators send regular announcements and sometimes participate in discussions 
-There is some optional synchronous engagement sprinkled throughout








-Facilitators may be required to be online twice every 24 hours on business days and once every 24 hours on weekends
-Facilitators prompt and participate in discussions
-There are weekly, scheduled synchronous engagements (live chat or webinars)
-Active learning components are monitored and commented on
-Students can expect a response from a question within 24 hours


Keeping the differences between these touches in mind, let’s examine the 3 key questions we highlighted above. 

Q1: Who are we designing this course for and what do they need to succeed?

Today’s global students are now accustomed to beautiful online experiences. There is a lot of competition for online users’ attention and students’ willingness to desert a platform or app that has a poor User Experience (UX) is high. It is therefore critical to design engaging online learning experiences that retain students and achieve the desired learning outcomes. The online course delivery model that surrounds the learning has an equally important part to play in the overall student experience. We recommend asking these questions about the students you are designing for:

  • How experienced are your students in online learning?
  • What kind of relationship with academics best supports their stage of learning? 
  • Are they working full time? 
  • How much time do they have available for engaging with online learning?
  • What devices are they using to learn?
  • How much peer to peer collaboration can be designed in?

EXAMPLE: If your students are inexperienced with online learning or have lower tech skills than most, it will be important that they have regular access to a facilitator. They will want to know someone is there to help and answer their questions promptly. A medium touch delivery model might be best. 

Students at more advanced levels (e.g., post-graduate) may also seek deeper, mentoring-style relationships with academic staff to support higher-level research and critical thinking skill development, as well as career-related guidance. 

Q2: What are our internal online delivery capabilities and resources?

The transition from face-to-face to interactive online learning models requires a shift in the use of staff time and, hence, resourcing. For online courses, less time is spent on course presentation and more time is required for design and planning. An organisational culture of collaboration is another critical success factor. 

If you decided on medium touch facilitation, support is needed for your students as well as academics and/or course facilitators. Consider:

  • Onboarding 
  • Online delivery training
  • LMS support for students.

Onboarding

Regardless of whether courses are being run internally or by casual staff, solid onboarding processes are needed. These should include:

  • Conversations about student expectations and how to get support
  • LMS training
  • Unit orientations and assessment considerations.

Online delivery training

Even experienced educators may need support to transition their craft to the online mode. What worked in a face to face classroom won’t always work online (or needs to be adapted). 

LMS support for students

Ideally, academics and facilitators are not dealing with trivial LMS issues. There should be a student support team managing this and other student queries unrelated to the academic content. 

EXAMPLE: You have decided to go with a high touch model and therefore require weekly webinars. To support your facilitators you may create some training on how to use Zoom effectively for engagement and also how to design dynamic online webinars. You could also set up a buddy system whereby new facilitators watch and observe experiences and build in opportunities for sharing tips and tricks. 

Q3: What is our learning organisation’s value proposition and how can this be leveraged through our online course design and delivery? 

In an increasingly competitive market, creating and upholding your value proposition is critical. If you stand for ‘Engaging and collaborative learning communities’ then it could be seen as a contradiction to choose a low touch delivery model. We know that without facilitation it’s hard to get students to engage with each other. 

In addition, if you have decided that your competitive edge will be ‘Experienced and dynamic online facilitators’ then you must invest in creating courses that allow for dynamic facilitation and support ongoing professional development for your facilitators.

We hope that these 3 questions, if posed and considered, will support organisations to have a conversation about delivery model early in the course design process.

online learning delivery models, Considerations for choosing online learning delivery models

At Oppida, we believe in creating dynamic learning environments through learning management systems which engage with your learners on a deeper level. Whether you’re at project inception or you’re struggling knee-deep to manage content deliverables, Oppida will tailor learning design support for you. Setup a quick consultation with our founder Bianca Raby and discover how we can help you project manage, design, develop and enhance your online courses from any stage in the course’s lifecycle. Also, sign up for our FREE Designing Digital Learning Course to better understand how to design for digital.

Writer’s Bios

online learning delivery models, Considerations for choosing online learning delivery models

Bianca is an experienced educator in K-12 and higher education. With a passion for learning design and online learning—she founded Oppida in 2019.

Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn or be sure to visit her website here.


online learning delivery models, Considerations for choosing online learning delivery models

Belinda has worked as a leader and consultant for various industries, universities, vocational education organisations, schools, and the government as well as innovation and research institutes.

Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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