Choosing a course format is an important part of the course design and delivery phase. After creating course goals and student learning objectives in the analyze and design phase, the next step is choosing a proper course delivery format. Knowing the course format will help you structure the delivery of lectures, readings and assignments, as well as assist you in building appropriate assessments and lesson plans.

Types of Course Formats

  • Face-to-face: Lectures and discussions are delivered during class time and students are assigned work outside of class. A typical 3-credit 15-week course would have three hours per week of classroom time and six to nine hours a week for readings and assignments.
  • Online: All lectures, discussions, and instructional materials are housed in an online learning management system. Lectures are recorded in advance. A typical online course (3-credit, 15-week course) will have one hour of lecture a week, two hours of engagement, and six to nine hours for readings and assignments.
  • Hybrid or blended: Class time is reduced and the learning management system is used to house additional lectures, readings, and assignments. Students are still expected to have the same workload expectations as an online or face-to-face course, but it is partially delivered in-person and online.
  • Flipped: All instructional materials, including lectures, are housed in the learning management system. Class time is reserved for active learning assignments. In a flipped model, students have clear expectations of requirements they must complete before, during, and after class.

Continue exploring the page or request assistance from the Center for Instructional Technology and Training.

Best Practices

When moving to a different course format, follow these best practices:

  • Identify course goals and student learning objectives first, and then choose the course format. The student learning objectives may reveal a desired course format (i.e., student learning objectives that emphasize active learning may suit a flipped classroom model). Once you’ve chosen the course format, you can structure the delivery of your course to meet the goals and objectives that you outlined.
  • Start small. If you have taught a course in a different format in the past, try redesigning one or two modules of content in the new format.
  • Give yourself time. Start the design process at least one semester in advance. Regardless of course format, spending a full semester on development will afford you time to be intentional with choosing instructional materials, assessments, and course layout.
  • Evaluate implementation. If you are trying a new lesson plan or activity, be candid and ask students for feedback.

References and Additional Resources

Further Exploration

Arnold, D., Mortensen, C., Thoron, A., Miot, J., Miller-Cushon, E. (2018). Translational Animal Science. “Identifying the optimal course delivery platform in an undergraduate animal behavior research course.”

Scott Heinerichs, Gina Pazzaglia, and Mary Beth Gilboy (2016) Athletic Training Education Journal: January-March 2016, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 54-57. “Using Flipped Classroom Components in Blended Courses to Maximize Student Learning.”

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