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Creating and Adapting Assignments for Online Courses

Woman with dark hair and glasses working on laptop

Online teaching requires a deliberate shift in how we communicate, deliver information, and offer feedback to our students. How do you effectively design and modify your assignments to accommodate this shift? The ways you introduce students to new assignments, keep them on track, identify and remedy confusion, and provide feedback after an assignment is due must be altered to fit the online setting. Intentional planning can help you ensure assignments are optimally designed for an online course and expectations are clearly communicated to students.  

When teaching online, it can be tempting to focus on the differences from in-person instruction in terms of adjustments, or what you need to make up for. However, there are many affordances of online assignments that can deepen learning and student engagement. Students gain new channels of interaction, flexibility in when and where they access assignments, more immediate feedback, and a student-centered experience (Gayten and McEwen, 2007; Ragupathi, 2020; Robles and Braathen, 2002). Meanwhile, ample research has uncovered that online assignments benefit instructors through automatic grading, better measurement of learning, greater student involvement, and the storing and reuse of assignments. 

In Practice

While the purpose and planning of online assignments remain the same as their in-person counterparts, certain adjustments can make them more effective. The strategies outlined below will help you design online assignments that support student success while leveraging the benefits of the online environment. 

Align assignments to learning outcomes. 

All assignments work best when they align with your learning outcomes. Each online assignment should advance students' achievement of one or more of your specific outcomes. You may be familiar with  Bloom's Taxonomy,  a well-known framework that organizes and classifies learning objectives based on the actions students take to demonstrate their learning. Online assignments have the added advantage of flexing students' digital skills, and Bloom's has been revamped for the digital age to incorporate technology-based tasks into its categories. For example, students might search for definitions online as they learn and remember course materials, tweet their understanding of a concept, mind map an analysis, or create a podcast. 

See a  complete description of Bloom's Digital Taxonomy  for further ideas. 

Provide authentic assessments. 

Authentic assessments call for relevant, purposeful actions that mimic the real-life tasks students may encounter in their lives and careers beyond the university. They represent a shift away from infrequent high-stakes assessments that tend to evaluate the acquisition of knowledge over application and understanding. Authentic assessments allow students to see the connection between what they're learning and how that learning is used and contextualized outside the virtual walls of the learning management system, thereby increasing their motivation and engagement. 

There are many ways to incorporate authenticity into an assignment, but three main strategies are to use  authentic audiences, content, and formats . A student might, for example, compose a business plan for an audience of potential investors, create a patient care plan that translates medical jargon into lay language, or propose a safe storage process for a museum collection.  

Authentic assessments in online courses can easily incorporate the internet or digital tools as part of an authentic format. Blogs, podcasts, social media posts, and multimedia artifacts such as infographics and videos represent authentic formats that leverage the online context. 

Learn more about  authentic assessments in Designing Assessments of Student Learning . 

Design for inclusivity and accessibility. 

Fingers type on a laptop keyboard.

Adopting universal design principles at the outset of course creation will ensure your material is accessible to all students. As you plan your assignments, it's important to keep in mind barriers to access in terms of tools, technology, and cost. Consider which tools achieve your learning outcomes with the fewest barriers. 

Offering a variety of assignment formats is one way to ensure students can demonstrate learning in a manner that works best for them. You can provide options within an individual assignment, such as allowing students to submit either written text or an audio recording or to choose from several technologies or platforms when completing a project. 

Be mindful of how you frame and describe an assignment to ensure it doesn't disregard populations through exclusionary language or use culturally specific references that some students may not understand. Inclusive language for all genders and racial or ethnic backgrounds can foster a sense of belonging that fully invests students in the learning community.  

Learn more about  Universal Design of Learning  and  Shaping a Positive Learning Environment . 

Design to promote academic integrity online. 

Much like incorporating universal design principles at the outset of course creation, you can take a proactive approach to academic integrity online. Design assignments that limit the possibilities for students to use the work of others or receive prohibited outside assistance.  

Provide   authentic assessments  that are more difficult to plagiarize because they incorporate recent events or unique contexts and formats. 

Scaffold assignments  so that students can work their way up to a final product by submitting smaller portions and receiving feedback along the way. 

Lower the stakes  by providing more frequent formative assessments in place of high-stakes, high-stress assessments. 

In addition to proactively creating assignments that deter cheating, there are several university-supported tools at your disposal to help identify and prevent cheating.  

Learn more about these tools in  Strategies and Tools for Academic Integrity in Online Environments . 

Communicate detailed instructions and clarify expectations. 

When teaching in-person, you likely dedicate class time to introducing and explaining an assignment; students can ask questions or linger after class for further clarification. In an online class, especially in  asynchronous  online classes, you must anticipate where students' questions might arise and account for them in the assignment instructions.  

The  Carmen course template  addresses some of students' common questions when completing an assignment. The template offers places to explain the assignment's purpose, list out steps students should take when completing it, provide helpful resources, and detail academic integrity considerations.  

Providing a rubric will clarify for students how you will evaluate their work, as well as make your grading more efficient. Sharing examples of previous student work (both good and bad) can further help students see how everything should come together in their completed products. 

Technology Tip

Enter all  assignments and due dates  in your Carmen course to increase transparency. When assignments are entered in Carmen, they also populate to Calendar, Syllabus, and Grades areas so students can easily track their upcoming work. Carmen also allows you to  develop rubrics  for every assignment in your course.  

Promote interaction and collaboration. 

Man speaking to his laptop

Frequent student-student interaction in any course, but particularly in online courses, is integral to developing a healthy learning community that engages students with course material and contributes to academic achievement. Online education has the inherent benefit of offering multiple channels of interaction through which this can be accomplished. 

Carmen  Discussions   are a versatile platform for students to converse about and analyze course materials, connect socially, review each other's work, and communicate asynchronously during group projects. 

Peer review  can be enabled in Carmen  Assignments  and  Discussions .  Rubrics  can be attached to an assignment or a discussion that has peer review enabled, and students can use these rubrics as explicit criteria for their evaluation. Alternatively, peer review can occur within the comments of a discussion board if all students will benefit from seeing each other's responses. 

Group projects  can be carried out asynchronously through Carmen  Discussions  or  Groups , or synchronously through Carmen's  Chat function  or  CarmenZoom . Students (and instructors) may have apprehensions about group projects, but well-designed group work can help students learn from each other and draw on their peers’ strengths. Be explicit about your expectations for student interaction and offer ample support resources to ensure success on group assignments. 

Learn more about  Student Interaction Online .

Choose technology wisely. 

The internet is a vast and wondrous place, full of technology and tools that do amazing things. These tools can give students greater flexibility in approaching an assignment or deepen their learning through interactive elements. That said, it's important to be selective when integrating external tools into your online course.  

Look first to your learning outcomes and, if you are considering an external tool, determine whether the technology will help students achieve these learning outcomes. Unless one of your outcomes is for students to master new technology, the cognitive effort of using an unfamiliar tool may distract from your learning outcomes.  

Carmen should ultimately be the foundation of your course where you centralize all materials and assignments. Thoughtfully selected external tools can be useful in certain circumstances. 

Explore supported tools 

There are many  university-supported tools  and resources already available to Ohio State users. Before looking to external tools, you should explore the available options to see if you can accomplish your instructional goals with supported systems, including the  eLearning toolset , approved  CarmenCanvas integrations , and the  Microsoft365 suite .  

If a tool is not university-supported, keep in mind the security and accessibility implications, the learning curve required to use the tool, and the need for additional support resources. If you choose to use a new tool, provide links to relevant help guides on the assignment page or post a video tutorial. Include explicit instructions on how students can get technical support should they encounter technical difficulties with the tool. 

Adjustments to your assignment design can guide students toward academic success while leveraging the benefits of the online environment.  

Effective assignments in online courses are:  

Aligned to course learning outcomes 

Authentic and reflect real-life tasks 

Accessible and inclusive for all learners 

Designed to encourage academic integrity 

Transparent with clearly communicated expectations 

Designed to promote student interaction and collaboration 

Supported with intentional technology tools 

  • Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonesty (e-book)
  • Making Your Course Accessible for All Learners (workshop reccording)
  • Writing Multiple Choice Questions that Demand Critical Thinking (article)

Learning Opportunities

  • Conrad, D., & Openo, J. (2018).  Assessment strategies for online learning: Engagement and authenticity . AU Press. Retrieved from  https://library.ohio-state.edu/record=b8475002~S7 
  • Gaytan, J., & McEwen, B. C. (2007). Effective online instructional and assessment strategies.  American Journal of Distance Education ,  21 (3), 117–132. https://doi.org/10.1080/08923640701341653   
  • Mayer, R. E. (2001).  Multimedia learning . New York: Cambridge University Press.  
  • Ragupathi, K. (2020). Designing Effective Online Assessments Resource Guide . National University of Singapore. Retrieved from  https://www.nus.edu.sg/cdtl/docs/default-source/professional-development-docs/resources/designing-online-assessments.pdf  
  • Robles, M., & Braathen, S. (2002). Online assessment techniques.  Delta Pi Epsilon Journal ,  44 (1), 39–49.  https://proxy.lib.ohio-state.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eft&AN=507795215&site=eds-live&scope=site  
  • Swan, K., Shen, J., & Hiltz, S. R. (2006). Assessment and collaboration in online learning.  Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks ,  10 (1), 45.  
  • TILT Higher Ed. (n.d.).  TILT Examples and Resources . Retrieved from   https://tilthighered.com/tiltexamplesandresources  
  • Tallent-Runnels, M. K., Thomas, J. A., Lan, W. Y., Cooper, S., Ahern, T. C., Shaw, S. M., & Liu, X. (2006). Teaching Courses Online: A Review of the Research.  Review of Educational Research ,  76 (1), 93–135.  https://www-jstor-org.proxy.lib.ohio-state.edu/stable/3700584  
  • Walvoord, B. & Anderson, V.J. (2010).  Effective Grading : A Tool for Learning and Assessment in College: Vol. 2nd ed . Jossey-Bass.  https://library.ohio-state.edu/record=b8585181~S7  

Related Teaching Topics

Designing assessments of student learning, strategies and tools for academic integrity in online environments, student interaction online, universal design for learning: planning with all students in mind, related toolsets, carmencanvas, search for resources.

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Designing Assignments for Learning

The rapid shift to remote teaching and learning meant that many instructors reimagined their assessment practices. Whether adapting existing assignments or creatively designing new opportunities for their students to learn, instructors focused on helping students make meaning and demonstrate their learning outside of the traditional, face-to-face classroom setting. This resource distills the elements of assignment design that are important to carry forward as we continue to seek better ways of assessing learning and build on our innovative assignment designs.

On this page:

Rethinking traditional tests, quizzes, and exams.

  • Examples from the Columbia University Classroom
  • Tips for Designing Assignments for Learning

Reflect On Your Assignment Design

Connect with the ctl.

  • Resources and References

assignment in distance education

Traditional assessments tend to reveal whether students can recognize, recall, or replicate what was learned out of context, and tend to focus on students providing correct responses (Wiggins, 1990). In contrast, authentic assignments, which are course assessments, engage students in higher order thinking, as they grapple with real or simulated challenges that help them prepare for their professional lives, and draw on the course knowledge learned and the skills acquired to create justifiable answers, performances or products (Wiggins, 1990). An authentic assessment provides opportunities for students to practice, consult resources, learn from feedback, and refine their performances and products accordingly (Wiggins 1990, 1998, 2014). 

Authentic assignments ask students to “do” the subject with an audience in mind and apply their learning in a new situation. Examples of authentic assignments include asking students to: 

  • Write for a real audience (e.g., a memo, a policy brief, letter to the editor, a grant proposal, reports, building a website) and/or publication;
  • Solve problem sets that have real world application; 
  • Design projects that address a real world problem; 
  • Engage in a community-partnered research project;
  • Create an exhibit, performance, or conference presentation ;
  • Compile and reflect on their work through a portfolio/e-portfolio.

Noteworthy elements of authentic designs are that instructors scaffold the assignment, and play an active role in preparing students for the tasks assigned, while students are intentionally asked to reflect on the process and product of their work thus building their metacognitive skills (Herrington and Oliver, 2000; Ashford-Rowe, Herrington and Brown, 2013; Frey, Schmitt, and Allen, 2012). 

It’s worth noting here that authentic assessments can initially be time consuming to design, implement, and grade. They are critiqued for being challenging to use across course contexts and for grading reliability issues (Maclellan, 2004). Despite these challenges, authentic assessments are recognized as beneficial to student learning (Svinicki, 2004) as they are learner-centered (Weimer, 2013), promote academic integrity (McLaughlin, L. and Ricevuto, 2021; Sotiriadou et al., 2019; Schroeder, 2021) and motivate students to learn (Ambrose et al., 2010). The Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning is always available to consult with faculty who are considering authentic assessment designs and to discuss challenges and affordances.   

Examples from the Columbia University Classroom 

Columbia instructors have experimented with alternative ways of assessing student learning from oral exams to technology-enhanced assignments. Below are a few examples of authentic assignments in various teaching contexts across Columbia University. 

  • E-portfolios: Statia Cook shares her experiences with an ePorfolio assignment in her co-taught Frontiers of Science course (a submission to the Voices of Hybrid and Online Teaching and Learning initiative); CUIMC use of ePortfolios ;
  • Case studies: Columbia instructors have engaged their students in authentic ways through case studies drawing on the Case Consortium at Columbia University. Read and watch a faculty spotlight to learn how Professor Mary Ann Price uses the case method to place pre-med students in real-life scenarios;
  • Simulations: students at CUIMC engage in simulations to develop their professional skills in The Mary & Michael Jaharis Simulation Center in the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Helene Fuld Health Trust Simulation Center in the Columbia School of Nursing; 
  • Experiential learning: instructors have drawn on New York City as a learning laboratory such as Barnard’s NYC as Lab webpage which highlights courses that engage students in NYC;
  • Design projects that address real world problems: Yevgeniy Yesilevskiy on the Engineering design projects completed using lab kits during remote learning. Watch Dr. Yesilevskiy talk about his teaching and read the Columbia News article . 
  • Writing assignments: Lia Marshall and her teaching associate Aparna Balasundaram reflect on their “non-disposable or renewable assignments” to prepare social work students for their professional lives as they write for a real audience; and Hannah Weaver spoke about a sandbox assignment used in her Core Literature Humanities course at the 2021 Celebration of Teaching and Learning Symposium . Watch Dr. Weaver share her experiences.  

​Tips for Designing Assignments for Learning

While designing an effective authentic assignment may seem like a daunting task, the following tips can be used as a starting point. See the Resources section for frameworks and tools that may be useful in this effort.  

Align the assignment with your course learning objectives 

Identify the kind of thinking that is important in your course, the knowledge students will apply, and the skills they will practice using through the assignment. What kind of thinking will students be asked to do for the assignment? What will students learn by completing this assignment? How will the assignment help students achieve the desired course learning outcomes? For more information on course learning objectives, see the CTL’s Course Design Essentials self-paced course and watch the video on Articulating Learning Objectives .  

Identify an authentic meaning-making task

For meaning-making to occur, students need to understand the relevance of the assignment to the course and beyond (Ambrose et al., 2010). To Bean (2011) a “meaning-making” or “meaning-constructing” task has two dimensions: 1) it presents students with an authentic disciplinary problem or asks students to formulate their own problems, both of which engage them in active critical thinking, and 2) the problem is placed in “a context that gives students a role or purpose, a targeted audience, and a genre.” (Bean, 2011: 97-98). 

An authentic task gives students a realistic challenge to grapple with, a role to take on that allows them to “rehearse for the complex ambiguities” of life, provides resources and supports to draw on, and requires students to justify their work and the process they used to inform their solution (Wiggins, 1990). Note that if students find an assignment interesting or relevant, they will see value in completing it. 

Consider the kind of activities in the real world that use the knowledge and skills that are the focus of your course. How is this knowledge and these skills applied to answer real-world questions to solve real-world problems? (Herrington et al., 2010: 22). What do professionals or academics in your discipline do on a regular basis? What does it mean to think like a biologist, statistician, historian, social scientist? How might your assignment ask students to draw on current events, issues, or problems that relate to the course and are of interest to them? How might your assignment tap into student motivation and engage them in the kinds of thinking they can apply to better understand the world around them? (Ambrose et al., 2010). 

Determine the evaluation criteria and create a rubric

To ensure equitable and consistent grading of assignments across students, make transparent the criteria you will use to evaluate student work. The criteria should focus on the knowledge and skills that are central to the assignment. Build on the criteria identified, create a rubric that makes explicit the expectations of deliverables and share this rubric with your students so they can use it as they work on the assignment. For more information on rubrics, see the CTL’s resource Incorporating Rubrics into Your Grading and Feedback Practices , and explore the Association of American Colleges & Universities VALUE Rubrics (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education). 

Build in metacognition

Ask students to reflect on what and how they learned from the assignment. Help students uncover personal relevance of the assignment, find intrinsic value in their work, and deepen their motivation by asking them to reflect on their process and their assignment deliverable. Sample prompts might include: what did you learn from this assignment? How might you draw on the knowledge and skills you used on this assignment in the future? See Ambrose et al., 2010 for more strategies that support motivation and the CTL’s resource on Metacognition ). 

Provide students with opportunities to practice

Design your assignment to be a learning experience and prepare students for success on the assignment. If students can reasonably expect to be successful on an assignment when they put in the required effort ,with the support and guidance of the instructor, they are more likely to engage in the behaviors necessary for learning (Ambrose et al., 2010). Ensure student success by actively teaching the knowledge and skills of the course (e.g., how to problem solve, how to write for a particular audience), modeling the desired thinking, and creating learning activities that build up to a graded assignment. Provide opportunities for students to practice using the knowledge and skills they will need for the assignment, whether through low-stakes in-class activities or homework activities that include opportunities to receive and incorporate formative feedback. For more information on providing feedback, see the CTL resource Feedback for Learning . 

Communicate about the assignment 

Share the purpose, task, audience, expectations, and criteria for the assignment. Students may have expectations about assessments and how they will be graded that is informed by their prior experiences completing high-stakes assessments, so be transparent. Tell your students why you are asking them to do this assignment, what skills they will be using, how it aligns with the course learning outcomes, and why it is relevant to their learning and their professional lives (i.e., how practitioners / professionals use the knowledge and skills in your course in real world contexts and for what purposes). Finally, verify that students understand what they need to do to complete the assignment. This can be done by asking students to respond to poll questions about different parts of the assignment, a “scavenger hunt” of the assignment instructions–giving students questions to answer about the assignment and having them work in small groups to answer the questions, or by having students share back what they think is expected of them.

Plan to iterate and to keep the focus on learning 

Draw on multiple sources of data to help make decisions about what changes are needed to the assignment, the assignment instructions, and/or rubric to ensure that it contributes to student learning. Explore assignment performance data. As Deandra Little reminds us: “a really good assignment, which is a really good assessment, also teaches you something or tells the instructor something. As much as it tells you what students are learning, it’s also telling you what they aren’t learning.” ( Teaching in Higher Ed podcast episode 337 ). Assignment bottlenecks–where students get stuck or struggle–can be good indicators that students need further support or opportunities to practice prior to completing an assignment. This awareness can inform teaching decisions. 

Triangulate the performance data by collecting student feedback, and noting your own reflections about what worked well and what did not. Revise the assignment instructions, rubric, and teaching practices accordingly. Consider how you might better align your assignment with your course objectives and/or provide more opportunities for students to practice using the knowledge and skills that they will rely on for the assignment. Additionally, keep in mind societal, disciplinary, and technological changes as you tweak your assignments for future use. 

Now is a great time to reflect on your practices and experiences with assignment design and think critically about your approach. Take a closer look at an existing assignment. Questions to consider include: What is this assignment meant to do? What purpose does it serve? Why do you ask students to do this assignment? How are they prepared to complete the assignment? Does the assignment assess the kind of learning that you really want? What would help students learn from this assignment? 

Using the tips in the previous section: How can the assignment be tweaked to be more authentic and meaningful to students? 

As you plan forward for post-pandemic teaching and reflect on your practices and reimagine your course design, you may find the following CTL resources helpful: Reflecting On Your Experiences with Remote Teaching , Transition to In-Person Teaching , and Course Design Support .

The Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is here to help!

For assistance with assignment design, rubric design, or any other teaching and learning need, please request a consultation by emailing [email protected]

Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT) framework for assignments. The TILT Examples and Resources page ( https://tilthighered.com/tiltexamplesandresources ) includes example assignments from across disciplines, as well as a transparent assignment template and a checklist for designing transparent assignments . Each emphasizes the importance of articulating to students the purpose of the assignment or activity, the what and how of the task, and specifying the criteria that will be used to assess students. 

Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) offers VALUE ADD (Assignment Design and Diagnostic) tools ( https://www.aacu.org/value-add-tools ) to help with the creation of clear and effective assignments that align with the desired learning outcomes and associated VALUE rubrics (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education). VALUE ADD encourages instructors to explicitly state assignment information such as the purpose of the assignment, what skills students will be using, how it aligns with course learning outcomes, the assignment type, the audience and context for the assignment, clear evaluation criteria, desired formatting, and expectations for completion whether individual or in a group.

Villarroel et al. (2017) propose a blueprint for building authentic assessments which includes four steps: 1) consider the workplace context, 2) design the authentic assessment; 3) learn and apply standards for judgement; and 4) give feedback. 


Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., & DiPietro, M. (2010). Chapter 3: What Factors Motivate Students to Learn? In How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching . Jossey-Bass. 

Ashford-Rowe, K., Herrington, J., and Brown, C. (2013). Establishing the critical elements that determine authentic assessment. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. 39(2), 205-222, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2013.819566 .  

Bean, J.C. (2011). Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom . Second Edition. Jossey-Bass. 

Frey, B. B, Schmitt, V. L., and Allen, J. P. (2012). Defining Authentic Classroom Assessment. Practical Assessment, Research, and Evaluation. 17(2). DOI: https://doi.org/10.7275/sxbs-0829  

Herrington, J., Reeves, T. C., and Oliver, R. (2010). A Guide to Authentic e-Learning . Routledge. 

Herrington, J. and Oliver, R. (2000). An instructional design framework for authentic learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, 48(3), 23-48. 

Litchfield, B. C. and Dempsey, J. V. (2015). Authentic Assessment of Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes. New Directions for Teaching and Learning. 142 (Summer 2015), 65-80. 

Maclellan, E. (2004). How convincing is alternative assessment for use in higher education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. 29(3), June 2004. DOI: 10.1080/0260293042000188267

McLaughlin, L. and Ricevuto, J. (2021). Assessments in a Virtual Environment: You Won’t Need that Lockdown Browser! Faculty Focus. June 2, 2021. 

Mueller, J. (2005). The Authentic Assessment Toolbox: Enhancing Student Learning through Online Faculty Development . MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. 1(1). July 2005. Mueller’s Authentic Assessment Toolbox is available online. 

Schroeder, R. (2021). Vaccinate Against Cheating With Authentic Assessment . Inside Higher Ed. (February 26, 2021).  

Sotiriadou, P., Logan, D., Daly, A., and Guest, R. (2019). The role of authentic assessment to preserve academic integrity and promote skills development and employability. Studies in Higher Education. 45(111), 2132-2148. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2019.1582015    

Stachowiak, B. (Host). (November 25, 2020). Authentic Assignments with Deandra Little. (Episode 337). In Teaching in Higher Ed . https://teachinginhighered.com/podcast/authentic-assignments/  

Svinicki, M. D. (2004). Authentic Assessment: Testing in Reality. New Directions for Teaching and Learning. 100 (Winter 2004): 23-29. 

Villarroel, V., Bloxham, S, Bruna, D., Bruna, C., and Herrera-Seda, C. (2017). Authentic assessment: creating a blueprint for course design. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. 43(5), 840-854. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2017.1412396    

Weimer, M. (2013). Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice . Second Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

Wiggins, G. (2014). Authenticity in assessment, (re-)defined and explained. Retrieved from https://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/authenticity-in-assessment-re-defined-and-explained/

Wiggins, G. (1998). Teaching to the (Authentic) Test. Educational Leadership . April 1989. 41-47. 

Wiggins, Grant (1990). The Case for Authentic Assessment . Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation , 2(2). 

Wondering how AI tools might play a role in your course assignments?

See the CTL’s resource “Considerations for AI Tools in the Classroom.”

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Marcelo Romero

E-learning the key Concept

Abstract. This article examines the distinct differences between ‘distance education ’ and ‘e-learning ’ in higher education settings. Since the emergence of the new information and communication technologies (ICT), many have related to them as the new generation of distance education, and some have referred to their implementation in academia as challenging the very existence of campus-based universities. Many policy makers, scholars and practitioners in higher education use these two terms interchangeably as synonyms. But the fact is that distance education in most higher education systems is not delivered through the new electronic media, and vice versa – e-learning in most univer-sities and colleges all over the world is not used for distance education purposes. ‘Dis-tance education ’ and ‘e-learning ’ do overlap in some cases, but are by no means identical. The lack of distinction between ‘e-learning ’ and ‘distance education ’ accounts for much of the misunderstanding of the I...

Distance education' and 'e-learning': Not the same thing

Adarsh Patel

Impact of E-Learning in the Development of Student Life

Ricardo Terra

2012, Sao Paulo Medical Journal

E-Learning: from useful to indispensable tool

Sharbani Bhattacharya

E-learning or electronic-learning methodology has taken up a huge leap in the recent decade. Though, e-learning is a sort of distance learning was there in last decade or prior to it. But the effective step are taken by many large companies to equip it in better way. There are various ways of e-learning. The companies or universities provide a platform to educate people to earn the online degree courses like Masters of Business Administration , Information Technology courses, short term courses, professional courses. As University of Phoenix has 25000 students doing various online courses. Apollo group , University of Phoenix based company who conducted various courses have a spin off of $ 2.4 billion in year 2008 from online courses. Association of Theological schools are developing standards for accrediting distance learning programs. Companies also have e-learning courses running for benefits of their employees. Some of the companies use it as platform to inform their employees a...

E-learning is an Add-on in Classroom Teaching Pedagogy


Rana A B D U L L A H Tahan

The educational process needs to develop all educational systems for the development of members of the community, especially teachers and students, and this is to update all methods of teaching and change educational curricula and the aim of that is to provide knowledge information to students faster and less expensive and better evaluate the performance of academic students and measure the extent of the development of educational scientific management, hence we mean e-learning, i.e. distance learning, the talk that has become increasingly popular is to impose itself as a kind of electronic education favored in all types of systems. Education in all educational and educational institutions, especially in this period in the light of the coronavirus pandemic, this research may clarify a lot of what is e-learning i.e. distance learning and its tools and mechanism to move to the application of this modern education as well as clarifying the differences mechanism of traditional education

E-learning -Distance learning in the twenty-first century

kimaya shelar

E-learning presents an entirely new learning environment for students, thus requiring a different skill set to be successful. Critical thinking, research, and evaluation skills are growing in importance as students have increasing volumes of information from a variety of sources to sort through. Also, particularly in courses that are entirely electronic, students are much more independent than in the traditional setting. This requires that they be highly motivated and committed to learning, with less social interaction with peers or an instructor. Students in online courses tend to do as well as those in classrooms, but there is higher incidence of withdrawal or incomplete grades. E-learning can be viewed as computer assisted learning, and as pedagogy for student-centered and collaborative learning. Early developments in e-learning focused on computer assisted learning, where part or all of the learning content is delivered digitally. More recently the pedagogical dimension of e-lea...


Anderson Silva , A. Guelfi

2012, Intech

E-learning enables students to pace their studies according to their needs, making learning accessible to (1) people who do not have enough free time for studying - they can program their lessons according to their available schedule; (2) those far from a school (geographical issues), or the ones unable to attend classes due to some physical or medical restriction. Therefore, cultural, geographical and physical obstructions can be removed, making it possible for students to select their path and time for the learning course. Students are then allowed to choose the main objectives they are suitable to fulfill. This book regards E-learning challenges, opening a way to understand and discuss questions related to long-distance and lifelong learning, E-learning for people with special needs and, lastly, presenting case study about the relationship between the quality of interaction and the quality of learning achieved in experiences of E-learning formation.

E-Learning - Long-Distance and Lifelong Perspectives

Dr.Dhiraj Jain

E-Learning – a Wider Context of Study?

Doru Alexandru PLESEA

2012, Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences

E-Learning as an Alternative Solution for Sustainable Lifelong Education

International Journal IJRITCC

The Necessity & Successful E-Learning Through Various Methods

Gaurav Kapoor

Electronic-learning: Friend or Foe

Mustapha Bukar Gana

Technology in Distance Education & E-Learning Assignment.pdf

Trisha Dowerah Baruah

2018, Springer

E-Learning as a Medium for Facilitating Learners’ Support Services Under Open and Distance Learning: An Evaluative Study


This study aims to discuss the pros and cons of E-learning over the traditional education and the influence of E-learning on the role of teachers in higher education. In this digital era, when technologies have proliferated at each level of the society, media, business, economy and education, the knowledge and application of Information, communication and technology(ICT) being the 'must factor' for everyone. Because of the accessibility of digital devices like mobiles, tablets, computers etc., today's learners are more comfortable, active and aware with technologies. [1] The huge adaptation of ICT has transformed traditional education to E-learning which provide the numerous opportunities to make the learning process more effective as well as efficient and cultivate the skill to sustain in the period of tough competition.[2] E-learning has emerged as a supportive tool to fulfil the need of the time and to produce the quality human resources. E-learning in educational pro...

E-Learning: A Revolution in Traditional Education

Leona Ungerer

Ungerer, L.M. (2012). The contribution of e-education in enhancing graduateness in an Open Distance Learning environment.

awo abiodun


Slawomir Wawak

2012, The Opportunities for and Constraints to Organizational Development in the Information Society (ed. A. Stabryla)

E-learning role in higher education and corporate environment

Srinivas Publication , Shailashri V. T

2020, International Journal of Applied Engineering and Management Letters (IJAEML)

E-Learning is an innovative system of learning technology. It’s a multidisciplinary process.Because of fast growth of internet technology, educational institutions and universitiesworldwide are diverting their investment in e-learning technology to support their traditionalmethods of teaching. It develops learner’s experience, knowledge and the action of performinga task or function efficiently. The success of e-Learning depends on two ingredients 1.Technological factor (software and hardware is used to build e-Learning systems).2. Humanfactor (Students and Faculty). These e-Learning systems are divided into three interfaces,Student, faculty and institution. E-Learning is technology based educational tool for learning.e-Learning is becoming more prominent in the world of higher and further education. eLearning is a powerful tool that can help and transform education in many ways. e-Learning isimparting of education through digital media, personal computers, DVDs, mobile phones and the Internet. Through the use of modern technological resources, e-Learning programs make itpossible for many students to achieve their educational goals. Most of the countries adopttraditional classroom teaching practice for imparting knowledge, which is fast vanishing. Thelatest classroom adopts a more interactive environment using e-learning content such asapplications of new e-learning software, internet-driven instructors to disseminate morepersonalized learning experiences to individual student working with laptops, tablets, androidmobiles and other electronic learning devices. In this scenario, e-Learning is network enabledtransfer of soft-skills and knowledge. E-learning includes computer-based learning, web-basedlearning, internet-driven software packages, virtual classrooms and digital applications. Thisstudy on e-learning is based on secondary data, focuses on history, types, forms, merits and demerits of e-learning to the students and faculty. It also deals with scope, difference betweentraditional & e-learning and challenges to students and instructors. The study uses swot analysisto conceptualize e-Learning

Conceptualization of e-Learning Theories and Approaches in the context of Further and Higher Education

Suminda Bogamuwa

2021, Staff Development Center, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka

The Relevance of E-Learning in Higher Education

supyan hussin



Rehana Rasool

E -learning as a tool for higher education and its challenges

2005, E-Training Practices for Professional Organizations

Taking the E-Train in University Education

Marlia Puteh


Vijay Kumar

2001, Education+ Training

E-learning developments and experiences

TJPRC Publication

Shaikh Farhat Fatma

A lot of people have heard of terms such as distance education or distance learning, yet with the introduction of elearning, distance education took on a whole new meaning. With e-learning, the possibilities for getting knowledge and information out to the learner at her/his own pace opened a whole new world for knowledge transfer. The life of knowledge and human skills today is shorter than ever, mounting the pressure to remain up to date with ones education and training throughout a career. In the age of globalization and technological revolution, four-year degrees are just the start of a forty-year continuing education. Life-long learning is quickly becoming an imperative in today’s world. Electronic learning (or e-Learning or eLearning) is a type of Technology supported education/learning (TSL) where the medium of instruction is computer technology. Although e-learning has potential in India, adoption has been slow and will need a major marketing and awareness effort. In India, globalization has generated a good vibration and life for education. Elearning technologies have great potential to spread learning however, the benefits of these technologies have to reach the rural masses of India, otherwise they will be one of the causes of the Digital Divide. This paper concentrates on the education scenario, eLearning content preparation and presentation tools, application of eLearning to spread education to the remote areas, pros and cons of eLearning and future of eLearning . This article also talks about the latest trends in elearning. A few suggestions have been made to use e learning for informal and vocational training, which is highly effective for a developing country like India where a majority of population is living in rural/ remote areas and has received almost negligible formal education.

E-Learning Trends Issues and Challenges 3

Dr. Trisha Dowerah Baruah

Electronic learning or E-learning is nothing but education based on modern methods of communication including the computer and its network, audiovisual materials, search engines, electronic libraries and websites. Generally this form of education is delivered through the medium of World Wide Web by utilising the Information and Communication Tools (ICT). This form of web based delivery system is widely used in the conventional mode of educational system. However, its usability in the field of distance education has seen a major turnaround in the past decade. The integration of digital technologies like Computer Aided Instruction (CAI) and Web Based Training (WBT) to the distance education palette has produced new models of learning, resulting in a richer and more interactive class environment. This paper mainly intends to find out the impact and implication of e-learning in distance learning system and whether it could replace blended learning in the near future. This paper also aim...

Is E-learning the Future of Distance Education?: An Analysis of some Issues and Challenges with Special Reference to Krishna Kanta Handiqui State Open University

Łukasz Tomczyk

2020, Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computers in Education

The paper presents experiences with e-learning among students of educational studies in the biggest Polish pedagogical university that prepares future teaching staff. The research was conducted in May and June 2019 in a group of 450 students (average age=22.660, with st. dev.=4.232). The goal of the study was to present the set of indicators that coexist with the use of distance education platforms by Polish pre-service teachers. Through triangulation of the research tools, eight survey questionnaires of high internal coherence (0.925) were used. Based on the data collected, it was noticed that the respondents have little experience in applying different forms of distance education. Last year, only 8.4% of the students were using paid platforms to develop their interests and knowledge. It was also observed that students who are highly active online (who use different e-services very often or often) show much more interest in online training. Financial status and gender do not determine student engagement in distance education. Participation in one form of e-learning very often coexists with other forms. The key factor indicator of involvement in paid and free e-learning courses is respondents' activity in cyberspace.

Experiences with e-learning as a challenge for the effective training of future generations of teachers

Cosmas Mnyanyi

Implementing E-learning in Higher Open and Distance

Zoltan Zakota

SSRN Electronic Journal

Current Trends in E-Learning Development

2017, International Journal of Advance Research and Innovative Ideas in Education

This study aims to discuss the trend of e-learning in the province of traditional education. With the arrival of the competition era, new technologies and methods have emerged as facilitating tools and have helped to overcome the drawbacks of old and conventional approaches. The introduction of e-learning in the field of education has rejuvenated the traditional education modes and served as a support by unfurling the time and space boundaries of learning. The field of education has also witnessed an enormous change with the introduction of ICT tools (Information and Communication Technology tools). The blending learning approach i.e. the merging of both the methods-traditional education and E-education has changed the face of global educational scenario immensely. On the other hand, as a method of sole learning, the accomplishment of learning- aim depends on life managerial skills and aspects like self-discipline, self-management and self-motivation of the learners. E-learning has ...

E-Education-A Substitute or a Support for Traditional Education

2002, Industrial and Commercial …

E-learning: research and applications

Ivana Cimermanova

The article discusses the issue of e-learning courses as an alternative to traditional face-to-face courses or the support of the face-face courses. The main aim of the article is not to decide which alternative is more effective, but to find out whether there are students with particular learning style who are pre-disposed to e-learning. There were eight hypothesis postulated and tested in the research. However, we bring only four of them in this article. Hypothesis were verified by means the statistical analysis of a pedagogical experiment and results gained in the standardized questionnaires. The data were elaborated by the statistical software SPSS. The final conclusions are formulated based on the results of the research achieved by the author of the article.


Athanassios Skodras

2003, Proceedings of the 1st International LeGE-WG …

Evolving from a traditional distance learning model to e-learning

Nelson Vargas

2013, International Journal of e-Education, e-Business, e-Management and e-Learning

E-Learning: Much More than a Matter of Technology

Constanta Mihaescu

In today’s society, following the exponential development of ICT, the classical method of learning has undergone numerous changes. The emergence of the Internet has accelerated these changes due to its capacity to offer multiple possibilities of access to information, instruction, all based on dynamic technologies, transparency and open dialogue. It can be well said that the Internet is turning into an arbiter for the access to education and culture, while eLearning is a new form of education that suggests itself as an alternative with a view to the needs of continuing training and knowledge. The most widely known results of this change are obvious in two learning models mediated by ICT: eLearning and Computer-assisted learning. As well as the classical models, these models imply an efficient learning process based on well-grounded cooperation and communication activities. Moreover, these models require appropriate technology and equipment. It is also important for the eLearners t...

A Cram of E-Learning Advantages and Disadvantages

Nawar Al-Saadi

2017, Journal of Information Technology Education: Research

E-learning has become necessary now for that this study reviewed 47 published studies and research on online teaching and learning since 2008, primarily focusing on how theories, practices and assessments apply to the online learning environment. The purpose of this paper is to provide practical suggestions for those who are planning to develop online courses so that they can make informed decisions in the implementation process. Based on the findings, the authors argued that effective online instruction is dependent upon 1) well-designed course content, motivated interaction between the instructor and learners, well-prepared and fully-supported instructors; 2) creation of a sense of online learning community; and 3) rapid advancement of technology. In doing this, it is hoped that this will stimulate an ongoing discussion of effective strategies that can enhance universities and faculty success in transitioning to teach online. Under current debates on the cost and quality of higher education, this study could help for the improvement of higher education and student enrollment and retention.

E-learning and its impact on future generations

Dr.G.K. Lavanya

In digital era, e-learning is a boon and plays a vital role in the development of education and future of students. The impact of advanced technology on education has shifted from conventional learning methods to e-learning methods. Various challenges in conventional learning methods which are repetitive, costly, limited to the classrooms, fixed timing and fixed concept for learning, can be overcome through online education. Technology expertise supplements traditional learning with web-based components and learning environments where the educational process experiences online education. This paper expresses the importance of on-line education in higher education and its impact on present Z-generation future. Major Indian Government initiatives and the target segments covered by online education also been detailed by the author. On-line learning will not only useful only for distance learning programs, but catching up with regular pedagogy of education.

Enriching Education through E-Learning

Fathima Rashida M. rashida

In the knowledge era, the e-learning has become vital. E-learning incorporates numerous tools that provide academic institutions efficient and effective ways to store, manage, share its academic resources and knowledge and supplement their traditional way of teaching. The adoption of e-learning has become a requirement at universities as it is enhancing the teaching and learning environment.The students' viewpoints, lecturers' performance, characteristics of LMS and support of university that play a significant role in determining e-learning implementation. In conclusion, universities should support e-learning deployment through improving learners' viewpoints, must ensure that lecturers are entirely on board regarding the implementation of e-learning, should guarantee the quality of the utilized system, must highlight the importance of LMS on curriculum and provide good enough service for effective LMS implementation in blended learning environment. 01. Introduction The use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a dynamic qualification for the growth of a knowledge-based economy, to develop human resources specifically for developing countries. Because of the greater use of information and communications technologies, Universities are enduring typical shifts. The result of this typical shift in the consumption and implementation of e-learning, which has arisen as an overbearing tool to communicate knowledge in the academic as well as corporate sectors. According to Kelly and Bauer, E-learning is the use of Web-based communication, collaboration, learning, knowledge transfer, and training in order to add value to learners and businesses (Managing Intellectual Capital via E-Learning at Cisco, 2004). E-learning is controlled to become an essential module of information propagation, and develops as the new standard of modern education meanwhile it has several advantages such like increased efficiency and cost reduction, transparency, scalability, flexibility, accessibility consistency and improved student performance. As Fathi and Wilson, all methods of Internet-mediated learning continue to succeed across all stages of higher education and are increasing continually (2009). Some academic and technical training organizations are using e-learning systems to support for traditional ways of teaching (blended learning), same time others use it to supporting tool for distance learning (pure exclusive e-learning). In case of blended learning environment, according to Gribbins et al, it is mixes instructional delivery in a face-to-face manner with online learning, either synchronously or asynchronously (2007). Hence, it is defined as a combination of online-learning and face-to-face classroom learning environments (Graham, 2006; Wu et al., 2010; Nawaz et al., 2015). On the other hand, in distance learning, e-learning can be used to construct a complete virtual learning environment with all course works can be done absolutely in an online manner. Additionally, the progress of e-learning systems is fairly a challenge for both government and government universities and industry. Success of the education does not rely only on technology, but it depends on careful planning and strategies for the implementation must be closely examined and that the implementation among users is a vital concern (ElT artoussi, 2009). Both Information System researchers and professionals deal various complications in theoretical and methodological concepts (Ozkan et al 2008). Most of the initiative institutions of e-learning in developing countries have not been successful (Borstorff, et al 2007, Saeedikiya, M., et al 2010, Sife, A. S. et al 2008). Some of them only know that why many initiatives stop their online learning after their initial experience (Sun et al, 2008). As a significance of these issues, the development of theories and principles for guiding e-learning triumph to lead to achieve an efficient system is become as a requirement. Furthermore, according to the importance of measuring IS success in terms of e-learning application increase, the requirement for the investment on e-learning also increase. But before investing in on an e-learning system, there is a crucial need to evaluate the success of the systems. 02. E – Learning Background Many researchers have encouraged to develop internet technologies and web based applications by the growing convention of internet. The character of e-learning and information technologies in higher education endures to multiply in scope and density. Every public educational institution has got the chance to make the use of Internet as a backbone of communicating medium with the students with the help of the rapid development of ICT

E-Learning in Higher Education Institutions and Its Determinants

Herman Dwi Surjono

2020, Letters in Information Technology Education

E-Learning and Its Role as a Learning Media in Education and Training

Neena Sawhney

2012, Educational Quest an International Journal of Education and Applied Social Sciences

E-learning: global education without walls

Lana Vasylenko

E-learning" 12. Innovative Educational Technologies, Tools and Methods for E-learning: E-learning to Ensure the Educational Services' Quality in University Distance Learning

Bassent Eissa

This research is based on identifying the importance of e-Learning and how the development in society and business changes the way of education, and also identify the difference between distance Learning & e-Learning and how there is a mis-understanding of both of them, in addition to identify the impact of the e-learning on universities strategies and it is important to identify & build quality factors that help to the continuous the use of e-Learning and also the presence of techniques to solve problems such as “ adoptive intelligence system” and finally to identify the expectations & feedback of students toward new technology and how they will interact within it, how it affect the effectiveness of employees and affect training .

E-learning and how the development in society and business changes the way of education

Dimitris Kardaras

2009, Encyclopedia of Information Communication Technology

Does E-Learning Improve the Communication Among Students and Lecturers?


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Teaching strategies.

Research on online learning shows that these four areas have significant impact on student learning, engagement and satisfaction. The following are a variety of possible strategies and resources for incorporating these areas into online courses. Successful courses need not employ all of these strategies.

Instructor Presence


  • Regular planned instructor communications with the class via regular announcements or weekly check-ins
  • Instruction al content (e.g., video, audio, interactive lessons) visibly created by the instructor
  • Regular instructor participation in class discussion (e.g., Carmen discussions or synchronous sessions)
  • Regular opportunities for students to receive personal instructor feedback on assignments ​

​Key Resources

  • Instructor Communication Plan
  • Communicating with Students
  • Instructor’s Presence in an Online Course

Scholarly Evidence

  • Teaching presence coupled with high-quality interactions (i.e., those which promote critical discourse) can engage students in a deep approach to learning. Garrison, D.R. & Cleveland-Innes, M. (2005). Facilitating cognitive presence in online learning: interaction is not enough. The American Journal of Distance Education , 19(3), 133-148.
  • Students’ sense of connectedness and learning is directly related to active presence of instructor (e.g. encouraging and acknowledging participation, providing feedback, addressing misperceptions, etc.) in the course. Shea, P., Chun S. L, & Pickett, A. (2006). A study of teaching presence and student sense of learning community in fully online and web-enhanced college courses. Internet and Higher Education , 9, 175-190. 
  • Teaching presence (e.g., providing structure and feedback and focusing discussion), social presence (e.g. providing emotional support and encouraging collaboration) and cognitive presence are all critical interacting elements that support a Community of Inquiry between instructors and students within computer-mediated communication modalities (i.e., online courses). Garrison, D.R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in Higher Education. Internet and Higher Education , 2(2-3), 87-105.
  • Teaching presence and social presence have a positive effect on student self-efficacy (i.e., the belief that they can achieve significant learning). Shea, P., & Bidjerano, T. (2010). Learning presence: Towards a theory of self-efficacy, self-regulation, and the development of a communities of inquiry in online and blended learning enviornments. Computers & Education , 55, 1721-1731.
  • In online courses, the role of the instructor shifts to providing resources, serving as facilitator, and providing social support; these positive attributes—in addition to sense of belonging in a learning community—promote student academic engagement. Vayre, E. & Vontrhon, A-M. (2017). Psychological engagement of students in distance and online learning: Effects of self-efficacy and psychosocial processes. Journal of Educational Computing Research , 55(2), 197-218.
  • In a study conducted at a midwestern university, undergraduate students have high expectations for their instructors to be positive and enthusiastic, to possess strong teaching skills, and a content area expert. Furthermore, online students’ expectations for the role that the instructor should play in their course did not differ from their peers enrolled in face-to-face courses. Trammel, B.A., & Aldrich, R.S. (2016). Undergraduate students’ perspectives of essential instructor qualities. The Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning , 16(1), 15-30.

Student Peer Contact

  • Opportunities for students to interact academically with classmates through regular class discussion or group assignments
  • Opportunities for students to interact socially with classmates (e.g., group video conference sessions, course Q&A forum)

Key Resources

  • Collaboration: Having Students Connect through Coursework
  • Creating a Peer Review Assignment
  • Canvas Discussions Overview
  • Facilitating student connectedness with each other and promoting a sense of community increases student engagement (i.e., interest and motivation in learning of course content). Young, S., & Bruce, M.A. (2011). Classroom community and student engagement in online courses. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching , 7(2), 219-230.
  • In a study of peer-moderated discussions, a strong sense of relatedness among participants promotes increased contributions to online discussions. Furthermore, student moderators can create a deeper online discussion through initial messaging being more elaborative, which is evident of knowledge construction, rather than simply social in nature. Xie, K., & Ke, F. (2011). The role of students’ motivation in peer-moderated asynchronous online discussions. British Journal of Educational Technology , 42(6), 916-930.
  • Providing multiple means for online students to interact with each other, in addition to interacting with the content, can their perceived enhance engagement. Dixson, M.D. (2010). Creating effective student engagement in online courses: What do students find engaging? Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning , 10(2), 1-13.
  • By encouraging online students to give feedback on their peers’ thoughts and ideas (e.g. replying on discussion boards and utilizing a rating mechanism for discussion posts), instructors can increase the frequency of students overall posting and non-posting behaviors (i.e., reading, evaluating others’ thoughts, and formulating responses) in the course. Xie, K. (2013). What do the numbers say? The influence of motivation and peer feedback on students’ behavior in online discussions. British Journal of Educational Technology , 44(2), 288-301.

Variety of Teaching Methods

  • Opportunities for students to receive course information through a variety of different sources, including indirect sources (e.g., scholarly resources and field observation)
  • Variety of activity and assignment formats, providing students with multiple means of demonstrating learning
  • Opportunities for students to apply course knowledge and skills to authentic, real-world tasks in assignments  
  • Technology-Enhanced Active Learning
  • Online Assessments
  • Creating a Presentation
  • A synthesis of on successful online teaching strategies in higher education identified that one best practice involves the inclusion of variety in teaching and instructional methods (e.g. , utilizing collaborative activities and reflective activities in conjunction with clear assessment criteria). Kebritchi, M., Lipschuetz, A., & Santiague, L. (2017). Issues and challenges for teaching successful online courses in higher education: A literature review. Journal of Educational Technology , 46(1), 4-29.
  • Universal Design for Learning (UDL) encourages inclusive course design that reaches all learners. For example, through the framework of UDL, instructors can set the objectives for a particular assignment, but allow students to be creative in the way in which they construct their response to the that assignment’s criteria (e.g., create videos, podcasts, infographics, etc. in place of a “traditional” essay or test). Tobin, T.J. (2014). Increase online student retention with universal design for learning. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education , 15(3), 13-24.
  • To best serve the needs of diverse learners (e.g., from different social and cultural backgrounds), instructors can provide learning materials in a variety of modalities (e.g., text, video, graphic, audio). Rogers-Shaw, C., Carr-Chellman, D.J., & Chio, J. (2018). Universal design for learning: Guidelines for accessible online instruction. Adult Learning , 29(1), 20-31.
  • In order to enhance student learning, course learning activities should be designed to be authentic (i.e., those that provide real-world relevance, ill-defined that are open to multiple interpretations, contain complex tasks, encourage collaboration, problem-solving, and reflection, promote examination through different perspectives, interdisciplinary, and seamlessly integrated with assessment). Herrington, J., Reeves, T.C., Oliver, R., & Woo, Y. (2004). Designing authentic activities in web-based courses. Journal of Computing in Higher Education , 16(1), 3-29.

Metacognition and Student Support

  • Instructor explanations provided about the overall design or organization of the course
  • Context or rationale provided to explain the purpose and relevance of major tasks and assignments
  • Guidance or resources provided for ancillary skills necessary to complete assignments (e.g., library research, technology tools)
  • Opportunities for students to take ownership of their learning process (e.g., choosing topics of interest for assignments)
  • Opportunities for students to reflect on their learning process (e.g., goals, study strategies, progress)
  • Opportunities for students to provide feedback on the course  
  • Student Survey
  • Getting Feedback on Your Teaching
  • Multimedia and Visual Storytelling
  • Webinar Recording: Metacognition Online
  • Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)
  • Providing resources for success in an online learning environment could expedite student shifts in student learning strategies from aiming for a getting a high grade to following up on provided resources (e.g. suggested readings) and to taking more ownership for their own learning. Richardson, J.C. & Newby, T. (2006). The role of students’ cognitive engagement in online learning. The American Journal of Distance Education , 20(1), 23-37.
  • In computer-mediated environments—like online courses—providing students with specific problem-solving prompts in conjunction with reflection prompts can improve achievement. Kauffman, D.F., Ge, X., Xie, K., & Chen, C-H. (2008). Prompting in web-based environments: Supporting self-monitoring and problem solving skills in college students. J. Educational Computing Research , 38(2), 115-137.
  • Instructor should support student use of self-regulated learning strategies such as metacognition, time management, effort regulation, and critical thinking in order to promote achievement. Broadbent, J. & Poon, W.L. (2015). Self-regulated learning strategies & academic achievement in online higher education learning environments: A systematic review. Internet and Higher Education , 27, 1-13.
  • When surveyed about effective online teaching, students appreciate well designed, well organized, and structured online courses. Young, S. (2006). Student views of effective online teaching in higher education. The American Journal of Distance Education , 20(2), 65-77.
  • The inclusion of increased interaction between students and content (SC), between students and peers (SS) and students and teachers (ST) positively impacts student learning. Furthermore, the presence of strong design features, which promote student-content engagement, promotes achievement over the presence of weak course design features. Bernard, R., Abrami, P.C., Borokhovski, E., Wade, C.A., Tamim, R.M., Surkes, M.A., & Bethel, E.C. (2009). A meta-analysis of three types of interaction treatments in distance education. Review of Educational Research , 79(3), 1243-1289.
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What Is Distance Learning? Types and Benefits

Distance learning can be a convenient way to build skills and even earn a degree.

[Feature image] A person in a navy suit sits in a cafe and uses a laptop computer for distance learning.

Distance education has become a common choice for many learners and institutions. During the pandemic, the number of students registering for distance learning courses skyrocketed. Several universities and academic institutions have given opportunities to students to learn remotely. Before enroling in an online learning course, it is important to have a clear concept of this approach. We will define the different types of distance learning as well as outline its advantages and potential limitations.

What is distance learning?

Distance learning refers to the way of learning that does not require you to be present physically at the university or institution. Learning materials and lectures are available online. Learners can stay at their homes while taking the course from an online university or other institution. They will usually also have the opportunity to attend in-person workshops, residencies, or other learning components, but the material is primarily taught through online courses.

Two types of distance learning

There are two major categories of distance learning: synchronous and asynchronous.


Synchronous distance learning refers to the real-time delivery of lectures. You will have live communications with your teachers. This learning model needs teleconferencing and other similar technologies.

Synchronous distance learning allows for face-to-face contact with instructors and classmates. As such, however, it is not as flexible as some learners may desire since you have to encounter your teachers and classmates at the scheduled time. 


With asynchronous distance learning, learners advance through the curriculum at their own pace. You will receive weekly deadlines, and therefore, you can work at your desired speed and schedule.

There is no scheduled time for accessing the course content. However, you may interact through video comments, quizzes, and conversations.

Different modes involved in distance learning

Regardless of the type of distance education programme you enrol in, you are likely to encounter different ways of learning. These include video conferencing, hybrid learning, open-schedule courses, and fixed-time courses.

Video conferencing

Traditionally, video conferencing refers to the interactions between multiple participants via the internet. You may compare it to synchronous communication. Both students and teachers have to use tools like Blackboard Collaborate, Zoom, or Adobe Connect. Participants can continue their interactions anytime, anywhere.

Video conferencing is advantageous as it promotes learner-instructor interactions. It also helps in providing the lesson in a proper structure. It is one of the main components of every successful distance education programme.

Hybrid distance education

When you combine asynchronous and synchronous methods, it creates a hybrid version. Learners have to stick to deadlines to do their assignments and appear for tests. But one major advantage is that they can study at a convenient pace.

This learning approach involves online forums to submit assignments. As a learner, you need to maintain contact with your teacher. With the progress of your study, you will find new modules of your course. Learners who desire independence often prefer hybrid distance learning.

Online open-schedule courses

The open-schedule instructions belong to the asynchronous category. Learners get freedom while undergoing the course. During the educational programme, you will receive:

Bulletin boards

Online books

You have to follow the deadlines while undergoing the academic course. Still, you can maintain a comfortable pace to study the course. You may feel no stress due to this approach. But, to find the best outcome and achieve a high grade, you must have motivation and self-discipline.

Fixed-time virtual course

A fixed-time course is the most commonly chosen format for distance education. Learners access the learning website at the desired times. They have to accomplish pre-scheduled tasks to achieve success and get the certificate.

Benefits of distance education

Distance education provides you with a range of benefits. Consider these advantages as you decide whether to enrol in distance learning courses or degree programmes.


Many highly motivated and self-disciplined learners prefer distance educational programmes. They are well-organised and maintain their performance in the virtual setting. It affords you the flexibility of learning from any place at any time.


Some instructors customise distance education programmes to serve their academic needs. Learners will get the chance to learn the course in any way.

No need to travel

Distance learning does not require commuting to campus. At the same time, distance learners can take virtual trips to museums, geographical locations, planetariums, and other places. A virtual trip is fun, and learners enjoy it during the distance learning programme. With the interactive tools, learners can increase their engagement level.


Education that requires attendance in physical classrooms can present barriers to some learners. Distance education can help make learning accessible to those living with disability or geographic constraints, for example, since distance learning is accessible to learners from almost any place.

Save time and money

Distance education saves you precious time and money. You do not need to be concerned about the travel time or expenses to attend the classes. Course materials and tuition may be lower as well since there are fewer overhead costs involved as compared to in-person classes.

Who prefers distance education?

Today, several learners like to achieve educational qualifications with distance learning programmes. This includes college students, high school learners, and office goers.

Some companies also use distance education programmes to train workers. Most commonly, distance education is useful for:

Learners in rural zones who cannot attend offline classroom-based programmes classes 

International students who want to enrol in overseas universities without leaving their home country

Companies that rely on distance education programmes to train their workers

Does distance education have disadvantages?

Although distance education programmes are advantageous, you may find a few downsides. It’s important to be aware of distance learning’s potential challenges so that you can set yourself up for success.

Some learners claim that they feel distractions during the educational programme. Without direct interactions, learners may lose track and miss deadlines. You must also have a reliable computer and internet connectivity. Some instructors will ask you to buy a web camera. Slow internet service can cause frustrations like long load times and frozen  videos. 

You may choose distance learning for degree programmes like master's, bachelor's, and doctoral. Busy professionals who do not have time to attend classes can rely on distance education to build new skills. You might find a difference in charges of the academic course since distance training is often a cost-effective choice, and you may enjoy it. 

Enrol for free with Coursera in a course like The Science of Well-Being offered by Yale or Meta’s What is the Metaverse? to see if distance learning is a good fit for you. If you enjoy the experience, you can continue to learn and build job-ready skills with programmes like the Google Project Management: Professional Certificate .

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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What is Distance Learning? The Benefits of Studying Remotely


What is distance learning? The distance learning definition may seem confusing at first, but it’s quite simple, and it may even be the right kind of education for you. Let’s learn more about distance education, how it’s different from online learning, and if it’s the ideal fit for you.

What Is Distance Learning?

Merriam Webster defines distance learning as, “a method of study where teachers and students do not meet in a classroom but use the Internet, e-mail, mail, etc., to have classes.”

Simply put, distance learning is when students are separated from teachers and peers. This means that students learn remotely and do not have face-to-face learning with instructors or other students.

Woman using laptop to study online

Photo by  Bonnie Kittle  on  Unsplash

What’s the difference between online learning and distance learning, 1. location.

Online learning can include the use of online tools and platforms while still being in a regular classroom setting. Distance learning, however, is remote and does not include any face-to-face interaction between student and teacher.

2. Interaction

Online learning, as seen above, can include interaction with teachers and peers, whereas distance learning does not have in-person interactions.

3. Intention

Online learning can be used as a supplement for teachers in their courses, while distance learning replaces teachers with instruction that is pre-set on the learning platform.

What Is Online Learning?

Online learning is when teachers or students use educational tools which are accessible on the internet.

This means that students can also use online tools while they are physically in a classroom with their teacher and peers. Online learning can be used anywhere and anytime, so teachers may have students using them as tools in class or for preparation and assignments at home.

Online learning tools are often used to create blended learning environments in the classroom. This helps keep students engaged in the class and in the material.

Online learning also helps teachers save preparation time before class. With the help of online educational tools, teachers can spend more time grading papers, giving one-on-one attention to students, and maybe even getting some free time for themselves in their busy work schedule.

UoPeople students using online learning tools for class

Photo by  John Schnobrich  on  Unsplash

What is distance education.

Distance learning does not include any in-person interaction with an instructor or study peers. Students study at home on their own, and the learning is more individual and varies on speed and timeline according to each individual student and their availability.

Distance learning actually relies on the educational tools of online learning, and that is probably why there is some confusion between the two. It is possible to study with online distance learning as well. In that sense, distance learning is a subset of online learning.

Because distance education is remote, it can connect students to universities worldwide, making it more accessible for students in different countries. It is also known to be more affordable, which is another factor that helps make education more accessible to many students around the world and in different socio-economic levels.Students from diverse backgrounds can unite in their pursuit of learning, armed with a wealth of available educational information from the Studocu online resource that will improve their academic path.

Student learning online

Photo by  Bench Accounting  on  Unsplash

The benefits of distance learning.

As mentioned above, students can study from universities around the world, even if they are not able to travel to their preferred program. This allows top universities to be available to students who would not otherwise be able to attend due to distance, finances, or other circumstances.

Distance learning is extremely important for those who cannot attend programs due to health complications, severe social anxiety, busy work schedules or parenting demands, or any other situations which make it necessary to be confined to the home.

Online programs, such as University of the People , cater to students who prefer or need distance education. UoPeople is a tuition-free nonprofit institution, making it an affordable and sustainable option for students worldwide. In addition to being affordable, University of the People employs academic leadership from renowned universities around the world, allowing equal opportunity for students to access quality education.

UoPeople provides distance education for students who may have physical or health restrictions, those who live in remote areas, or those who cannot otherwise attend school due to late work hours or raising a family. This provides an equal opportunity for people to access higher education despite restrictions or location.

Types Of Distance Learning

1. online courses.

Online courses are usually offered as additional classes in traditional degrees. As long as students have computer and internet access, they can learn and receive instruction at home.

2. Hybrid courses

Hybrid courses combine traditional classroom settings with online learning at home. This can mean that students learn individually at home and meet up for in-person instructions or lectures at certain intervals during the course. The amount of at-home learning and in-class learning varies for each hybrid course.

3. Conference classes

Conferencing allows students and teachers to meet up for class in real time, whether in a group or one-on-one with an instructor. Using the phone or video chatting, such as Skype, students and teachers can engage in live lessons despite distance.

4. Correspondence courses

Correspondence courses consist of students engaging in class material via mail or email. Students receive material and assignments through mail, and they send completed assignments back through the same method.

What Works Best For You?

Now that you have a rundown of the distance learning definition, and the different kinds that are available, you can decide whether it’s a right fit for you and your life. Many students find distance learning to be a fulfilling and practical way to receive quality education, without needing to attend a traditional university.

Whether you’re looking for a program that will allow you to work or raise a family, or whether you might have a condition that keeps you at home most of the time, distance learning can be a great way to learn valuable knowledge and tools for your future.

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  • Course Overview
  • Lesson 1: Distance Education - Filling a Need
  • Lesson 2: Distance Education Theory - Curious Minds
  • Lesson 3: Distance Education Research - Learner-Centered Research
  • Lesson 4: Distance Education Technologies - What works?
  • Lesson 5: Distance Education Instructional Design - Process
  • Lesson 6: Distance Education: Managing and Leading
  • Lesson 7: Distance Education: Teaching and Distance Education
  • Lesson 8: Distance Education: The Student and Distance Education
  • Lesson 9: Distance Education Support Materials
  • Lesson 10: Distance Education Assessments and Copyright
  • Lesson 11: Distance Education Evaluation


Multimedia principles, universal design principles, reading response (rr) assignment 9.1, reading response (rr) assignment 9.2, assignment 9.3, scoring rubric for assignment 9.3, submitting your assignments, lesson 9: support materials and visualization for distance education.

Your chapter reading in this lesson focuses on the support materials used in distance learning. The text focuses on some specific examples such as having a syllabus and an interactive study guide. We will zoom out a little and be as general as possible so your take away is something that can be applied to any instructional content design being delivered from a distance. This lesson asks you to consider some basic multimedia principles that will help enhance learning. Since we are discussing learning from a distance, the content we create should be as effective as possible from the start. As we have discussed in previous lessons, the design for a distance learning project will need to be revised many times until its final form emerges. Perfection is not expected here, but if we begin with some proven researched principles, our revisions will be fewer and our effectiveness will be greater.

We will also be taking a look at how universal design principles can help guide the design and creation of instructional materials as well. Your chapter reading touches on it. There are design principles that should be considered when creating instructional material. We will discuss the design principle of using storytelling in instruction in this lesson.

And finally, we will discuss the practice of evaluating online resources for instructional tools and content creation. How you evaluate the resources you have available is mostly up to you if you are the creator. However, we have discussed the possibility that you might not be the creator, but instead, part of the design team or the SME. In this role, you would be evaluating possible instructional tools to bring to the table for team discussion. If you make a practice of evaluating resources, you can go through many in a short amount of time based on a particular criteria instead having to randomly search and use dozens of tools. Also, should you be the leader that is requesting approval for a distance program or distance course, and you are told “no” because of the costs, you could share your evaluations on tools that are available that the decision-makers may not have considered. Because there are so many reasons to evaluate, you will be asked to create an evaluation rubric (samples provided) and evaluate some online resources.

We will begin with a look at Mayer’s multimedia principle and how it should be considered when creating media for course content.

assignment in distance education

There are several principles that Mayer has outlined with regards to using multimedia in instruction. The following chart lists and explains each principle:

An example of using the multimedia principle to enhance learning:

3) Using the multimedia principle, I can use an animation instead to enhance learning and understanding.

One of your readings in this lesson includes a paper by Dr. Peter Doolittle from Virginia Tech about using Mayer’s principle(s) when creating content. He describes the importance of using proven principles when creating instruction. When we are designing instruction, we are communicating a message to the learners. It is important to use the tools at our disposal to try to communicate the message as clearly as possible and in a way that the learner can understand. You will notice the paper mentions differences in the use of Mayer’s principles when it comes to learners that already know a lot and those that do not. Recognizing the difference is helpful in the decisions we make when designing and creating instructional content. Knowing your learners (learner analysis) will help guide your choices.

In addition to using multimedia principles to guide our content design, there are many universal design principles that we can use to guide us as we create course materials. In your chapter reading you will read about the importance of using design principles to emphasize, explain, enhance clarity and encourage learning. Your text discusses balance, center of interest, emphasis, unity, contrast, and rhythm, along with line, shape, space, texture, value and color as twelve strong guidelines provided by the principles of design. You do not have to be an artist to create quality presentations. Knowing, understanding and using universal design principles will help to create successful instructional material.

HERE is a link to a book that describes 100 universal principles of design. How can universal design principles help you design instruction? We will discuss briefly how using “storytelling” (slide 228 on the SlideShare) can enhance understanding and motivation in an instructional setting. The following two examples discuss CPR; one uses storytelling and one does not.

Both videos discuss the procedure of performing CPR on a person. Which one held your attention the most? By using the elements of storytelling (delivering information in a narrative form with a beginning, middle and end) understanding and motivation can be enhanced. This is just one example of how one can incorporate universal principles of design in while creating instructional materials. Design principles do not guarantee that learning will occur, but the principles of universal design are user-centered, and are proven principles that can gain the attention of learners in various ways that helps to make learning more possible. Just watching a video that explains CPR does not guarantee the learner will learn how to do it correctly. But the use of story, gains the learner’s attention and helps prepare the learner for instruction.

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Chapter 8 - Teaching and Learning at a Distance, “Distance Education Support Materials” READ : Doolittle, P. E. (2002, May). Multimedia learning: Empirical results and practical applications. In The proceedings of the Irish Educational Technology Users' Conference. Optional Reading : The book, Multimedia Learning, by Richard Mayer, is available online through the VT library. It is an excellent source. Mayer cautions those using multimedia for instruction to not get caught up in the technology-focus of multimedia, but to stay learner-focused. In this book Mayer goes into more detail than the Doolittle paper we read, about his principles and why they help in the designing of instruction and why using them enhances the learning of the audience.

You are going to be creating content for your distance learning lesson for your final project. How might what you have read in this lesson affect your decisions (if at all)? In a 1-2 page Word document, briefly describe 1 instructional document/slide/video you may use to deliver content for your final project (you may include screen shots, but it is not necessary.) Provide support for the choice you made on this piece and note what multimedia principle(s) may be an asset to your design. Please include how this choice of multimedia aligns with your learning objectives and your learner analysis.

assignment in distance education

(This response should be in MS Word (or similar) and should be submitted together with Assignments 9.2 & 9.3.)

In this assignment you are asked to 1) Create your own evaluation rubric for instructional or content creation tools, 2) Use your rubric to evaluate ONE tool you may be considering for your final project, and 3) Use your rubric to evaluate ONE of the 4 tools listed below:

  • Voicethread (Asynchronous instruction possibilities)
  • Powtoons (can incorporate multimedia principles to present content)
  • TeamViewer (Synchronous instruction possibilities)
  • Quizlet (can create study vocabulary for student practice and use for formative assessments)

That is a total of one rubric and TWO completed evaluations based on your own criteria (rubric). Accompany the evaluations with a single page document that 1) describes your experience with the tools you have evaluated, and 2) make at least 1 connection to any of your readings from this lesson.

(This response should be in MS Word (or similar) and should be submitted at the same time as Assignments 9.1 & 9.3.)

Assignment 9.3 is as follows:

In Assignment 6.3, 7.3 & 8.3 you were asked to consider many of the various elements that form the development a distance education program. In this part of assignment 9.3 you will still be compiling the information in the chart below for your final project report.

For this assignment 9.3, please submit a rough-draft of the highlighted sections of your Needs Assessment & Process Planning as they relate to your final project planning. Your rough draft should be thorough enough to invite adequate feedback (should include 2-3 ideas for each topic that relate directly to your final project) but it may remain in a rough draft form. Please use each topic as a separate heading in the document you turn in.

18 Points Possible

6 – Submission includes notes on the following aspects of the over-all distance learning course design: Evaluation and Accessibility. 6 – Notes are thorough enough (should include 2-3 ideas for each topic that relate directly to the final project) to invite adequate feedback on the final paper. 6 – Notes include references from the text as well as outside sources that are cited at the end of the document.

When you have completed all three assignments (9.1, 9.2 &9.3) please submit them all at the same time in a single document. At the top of your document you should have the lesson name, and underneath that should be your name, email address, and the date. Your paper should be double spaced using a standard font such as Arial, Helvetica, or Times New Roman. Most formatting questions can be resolved by using the  APA Publication Manual guidelines. Make sure you have saved your file with the name “Assignment9”. After you have saved you file, go to the  student interface  and submit your assignment for grading. Click  here  if you need additional information regarding submission of your assignment.


Don’t keep your distance learners at a distance

Tailored communication, supervision and technology can give distance-learning postgraduate researchers the same sense of belonging as their on-campus counterparts. Here, Richard Thomas offers ways to close the gap

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A recent Times Higher Education article found that some distance-learning postgraduate researchers felt that they were “invisible” to their host universities. The piece was based on findings from a survey of 521 current and former postgraduate researchers in 42 countries. Some institutions, it said, left their distance learners to their own devices and didn’t offer them the suite of support that their campus-based peers received.

At the University of Leicester, however, this certainly isn’t the case.

We have been delivering distance-learning programmes for a quarter of a century; 14 per cent of our postgraduate research (PGR) community are distance learners, most of whom are situated within the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities.

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Distance-learning PhDs offer a flexible way to study for research degrees, allowing researchers to gain qualifications (MPhil, PhD, DSocSci and so on) wherever they are in the world, and at the same time fulfil their other professional or personal commitments. Researching part time offers maximum flexibility, with the ancillary benefit of a much smaller environmental footprint.

Our approach at Leicester stems from the fact that PGRs receive the same support whether they undertake their research degrees through distance learning or are based on campus. Our programme approval process requires a business case that demonstrates all mandatory training, annual reviews and examination can be delivered virtually and are of equivalent quality to campus-based learning.

How to support remote postgraduate researchers

So what have we learned from our experience?

Well, first off, each of Leicester’s PGRs has at least two supervisors to help them plan and manage their research. They might also have an external third supervisor, with specific academic or industry expertise to help support the delivery of the programme of research.

Regular contact with the supervisory team is key (the mainstreaming of digital tools during the Covid-19 pandemic further enabled this). Undertaking postgraduate research can be a lonely experience – more so if you are undertaking studies by distance – therefore cultivating and maintaining a sense of belonging is critical. Get that right and you’re more than halfway there.

Email groups and virtual platforms bolster communication and help immerse distance-learning PGRs into the wider research culture of the university. Hybrid research seminars and dedicated PGR events can enable distance-learning PGRs to mix online with academic staff and peers, which adds to the sense of community belonging.

Communication should be backed up with easy-to-access digital training materials, study guides and multimedia resources to help PGRs develop their research skills. We do this through a virtual learning environment portal. This provides access to an extensive mix of asynchronous virtual training modules and recorded face-to-face events, with synchronous activities offered in both hybrid and dedicated online formats. Last year, more than 50 per cent of the training developed by our researcher development team was online.

The core skills covered in training include:

  • Requirements of the postgraduate research degree and expectations for the thesis
  • Finding and reviewing academic literature
  • Formulating and refining research questions
  • Researching ethics and integrity
  • Academic writing and research communication
  • Research methods and tools.

Like most universities, we have an extensive e-library of resources to help support our distance learning researchers – ours contains more than a million electronic resources.

Holistic support that goes beyond training

The support shouldn’t just focus on research training and delivery; well-being and career planning are key elements too. Distance-learning PGRs receive access to our well-being support services. Furthermore, our careers and employability service and doctoral college have also developed a tool to enable PGRs, including those who are distance learning, to reflect on their subject-specific and transferable skills and plan for the next steps in their careers – recognising that the routes beyond a postgraduate degree are diverse.

But, as with all elements of an integrated distance-learning offer, PGRs should not be left to navigate these resources on their own. Frequent and regular supervision meetings with each PGR help make sure each of them has an annual plan for their research and their professional development.

But don’t take my word for it; it’s the experiences of our distance learners that really count. Which is why I was delighted to see Jim Howe leave a glowing review of his learning from afar (from New Brunswick, Canada, to be precise) on LinkedIn this summer. Jim signed up for a PhD entitled “Atomic space: a history and analysis of U.S. policy for the development of nuclear space propulsion and power technologies” to help him progress his career, and his company’s expertise, in generating nuclear electric power.

He said: “What made this educational journey especially fulfilling was the terrific distance-learning program offered by the university and the outstanding guidance provided by my thesis supervisors, Dr Andrew Futter and Dr Bleddyn Bowen, both of whom are world-renowned experts in their disciplines. Both steered the research in the right direction, offered a host of improvements and bucked up my efforts at just the right times. I’m forever in their debt.”

Sos it’s safe to say, Jim felt pretty visible…

Richard Thomas is professor of archaeology, deputy pro vice-chancellor for research and enterprise, and dean of the Doctoral College at the University of Leicester.

If you would like advice and insight from academics and university staff delivered direct to your inbox each week,  sign up for the Campus newsletter .

The Significance of Assignments in Distance Education

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Assignments are a way of testing the learning of the students via different methods. Different kind of assignments tells a different story about the student. Some reveal the critical thinking abilities of the students. While other shows their writing and research skills. But the main purpose of all the assignments is the same which is to help students to get a better understanding of the topic. And to test whether every student has grasped the topic or not.

Assignments are significant in both physical and distance education. And because it points out the sections that need improvisation. So, that is why it plays a crucial role in making a student better in that specific region. So, let’s dive a little deeper to understand the significance of assignments in distance education. But first of all, we need to go through the different types of assignments and their output.

Types of Assignments:

As I discussed above there are different purposes for giving these assignments. Like to help the students enhance their writing, research, and critical skills. Some types of assignments test writing and research skills like Research papers, Thesis, Essays, and Dissertations. Quizzes and Exercises are to know the critical thinking and the understanding of the students.

2) Research Papers

4) Discussion boards

5) Practice Exercises

Some of the assignments are short and less time-consuming like essays. And the others could take whole weeks or even months to complete like the research papers, Thesis, and dissertations. 3 aspects of assignments need to be kept in mind while making them.

Aspects of Assignments to keep in mind:

The assignment should be made as per the learning goals and it should fulfill the reason why the teacher gave it. If a teacher gives the assignment to explore new ideas then make sure to add those.

Secondly, the assignment should be reliable. What reliability means that if the teacher specifies some kind of element to add. And you added it so, it is the responsibility of the teacher to give you the grades as per it.

Lastly, the most valuable and significant factor is transparency. Transparency is crucial because it shows that the assignments are made by the students with proper research and struggle. And if any student makes the assignment that is copied or doesn’t have the valuable information. So, the marks of the student will be deducted.

Benefits of Assignments in Distance Education:

It uplifts the Knowledge:

As a student, you only get the knowledge and information about a topic that your teacher gives you. And to give you more information about a certain topic the teacher gives you assignments. And when the student researches the topic. Then they will surely get more information and the research will enhance their way of thinking.

In distance education, the students are far from the teacher and don’t have access to the teacher to get their doubts clear. So, these assignments help online them explore the different aspects of the topic.

Increases Practical skills:

Every student deserves an education that not only helps them in their academics but also their practical and professional life. For that reason, the teacher gives different kinds of assignments like dissertations, theses, and Research papers to get them familiar with real-life problems. And how to face them. And in distance education, it is very beneficial because if a student is confused about real-life usage and how to use it. Then the assignments will help them discover the problems and how they can overcome them.

Improvises Research Skills:

Some fields require a mind that can do effective research. Research is the skill that helps the student to get reliable information and keep themselves up-to-date. Making assignments will push the students to get as much valuable data as they can. And when a student finds something about a topic. So, there will be both valuable and fake or less true information would be available. And this is where the student has to analyze the information. But if any student is facing difficulty while researching. So, they can seek Assignment Help Dubai to get the perfect information.

In distance education or physical education, the assignments help the students to enhance their future by making their research skills better.

Critical Thinking Skills:

In both types of education distance education or physical an assignment works extremely well to enhance their critical skill. Because when a student tries to make the assignments. Then they have to analyze the ideal piece of information that is required in the assignment. If the teacher asks the student to get a certain output, then this will make the student think about it. And determine the ideal way to get that result.

Planning and Time Management skills:

When the teacher assigns assignments they are big enough to be planned. So, the students have to organize their time well. And manage their time according to the complexity of the assignments. As the students have to do different kinds of activities. And if they manage their time well then this will solve one of the biggest issues of the students.


The assignments in distance or physical education are very crucial and play a big role in making the students better for their future. The assignments help the students manage and organize their time, enhance their research abilities, and Improve their critical thinking, it also uplifts practical skills. Lastly, it encourages the student to gain more knowledge. That is why the students who are learning at a distance would become the same as the students who are available onsite.

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