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Digital course concepts


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Digital course concepts

Digital settings: in person, online and/or hybrid? 

In addition to didactic considerations, framework conditions for teaching also play a role. Here, too, one should consider which settings are appropriate for which purpose and which framework conditions may also entail certain requirements. The following settings are not mutually exclusive; rather, they can also be combined.
Digital tools such as voting systems or digital bulletin boards are very well suited to activate students - for example, to initiate interactions or to create communication occasions. In addition, they can be used to learn about the learning status of students and to report back to them. Digital tools are also a valuable support on an organizational and evaluative level in face-to-face events, as they directly provide a (voting) result. For example, when it comes to agreeing on future procedures or to get feedback as a teacher.
If one part of a synchronous course takes place in person and the other part via videoconference, this is referred to as a synchronous hybrid teaching-learning setting. As the degree of interaction increases, this scenario becomes more complex and thus more demanding in terms of planning and implementation.
When considering an entire semester, synchronous sessions can be embedded into a blended learning concept and/or a flipped classroom.
This scenario can also be useful for a situation where a weekly session is necessary but not all students can or should be present (pandemic, room too small, etc.) but regular face-to-face time should still be offered to all participants, then students can alternate between attending face-to-face or online via video conferencing.
In addition, synchronous time can be enriched with digital tools that work for online participants as well as for face-to-face participants. (based on presence event enriched with digital tools)
A mixture of online and face-to-face teaching describes, first of all, an alternation of synchronous face-to-face sessions and asynchronous self-learning phases. The digital design and support of the self-learning phases is given central importance. To this end, carefully prepared learning materials are made available via the learning platforms. (Blended learning concept)
The actual content transfer can also take place in self-learning phases, which are of course very well prepared and accompanied (e.g. with texts; videos; leading questions; tasks completed in small groups; quizzes). Synchronous sessions are then reserved for active interaction such as discussions, answering open questions, clarifying what is not understood, discussing the meaning of what has been learned, practical application or exercises. Above all, this design is an alternative to those event formats in which the focus is on content delivery and in which synchronous time is used for content delivery and engagement with the content falls into the asynchronous self-learning phases. The conditions are "turned upside down" - hence the term inverted or flipped classroom.
There are essentially two cases to distinguish here:
It is an event with weekly synchronous appointments, which are held completely online - with a video conference. These appointments can be embedded in a blended learning format or in an inverted or flipped classroom. The synchronous appointments are enriched with digital tools for activation.
The other case is a complete self-learning course without synchronous appointments. Communication with instructors can be ensured via a forum or chat. It may be a pure self-learning course over an entire semester or a few weeks in a semester, with the extensive self-learning phase flanked by synchronous appointments.
A special case might be project work that extends over several weeks, with students working together in small groups on a project. This work can be effectively supported by digital tools.
This is a model in which students choose how they participate in a course. They can come to face-to-face sessions offered or participate in these synchronous appointments via video conferencing, or they can choose not to use synchronous appointments at all and learn exclusively asynchronously. However, this model is very demanding in terms of planning and implementation for teachers and is not without problems. This model is most conceivable for event formats in which the focus is on content transfer and interaction is not particularly important. Its use must be well considered. (HyFlex)
What actually means ...?

Blended Learning

Blended learning is the combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning with digital media, whereby the synchronous phases can be carried out both in presence and virtually in the form of synchronous online meetings.
Testimonials (only available in German):
Source: vgl. Arnold, P. et al: Handbuch E-Learning: Lehren und Lernen mit digitalen Medien. 5. Aufl., Bielefeld 2018, S.23. Online: https://hds.hebis.de/ubgi/Record/HEB433953721

Hybrid teaching

Hybrid teaching is currently understood to mean all teaching formats that are based on the fact that a subgroup of students does not participate in the course on site. Some of the course participants are given the opportunity to participate virtually, either synchronously or asynchronously, as an alternative to the classroom sessions.

Special feature: Synchronous hybrid teaching

Synchronous hybrid teaching-learning scenarios are scenarios in which one part of the entire learning group is on-site (in physical presence) in the seminar room/lecture hall and the other part of the entire group is connected live via video conference. 
Testimonials (only available in German):
Source: e.g. https://www.hs-rm.de/de/service/didaktik-und-digitale-lehre/hybride-lehre-didaktische-empfehlungen oder https://www.uni-goettingen.de/de/632946.html

Inverted Classroom and Flipped Classroom

"The basic idea of the Inverted Classroom Model is to swap content delivery, which traditionally takes place together on site with the teacher, and practice and reinforcement, which is done alone at home. The goal here is to have time available for learning together and applying the newly learned material." [1]
"This model [Flipped Classroom], which has increasingly found its way into schools in recent years, relies on short instructional videos for self-study (...) and dedicates the subsequent content consolidation phase in presence primarily to practicing and deepening the digital content." [2]
The terms inverted and flipped classroom are often used synonymously, with "inverted classroom" being used more in the university context and "flipped classroom" more in the school context. The core of both models is the idea that learners acquire knowledge at home (by means of digital learning materials and assignments) and that this knowledge is then discussed, applied, reflected upon or deepened together with the teacher in the lecture hall or seminar room.
Testimonials (only available in German):
[1] Self-translation from German: Schäfer, Anna Maria: Das Inverted Classroom Model. In: Handke, Jürgen und Alexander Sperl (Hg.): Das Inverted Classroom Model. Begleitband zur ersten deutschen ICM-Konferenz. München 2012, S.3. Online: https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9783486716641/pdf
[2] Self-translation from German: Handke, Jürgen: Handbuch Hochschullehre digital: Leitfaden für eine moderne und mediengerechte Lehre.  3., akt. u. erw. Aufl., Baden-Baden 2020, S.67. Online: https://hds.hebis.de/ubgi/Record/HEB464258022


In the HyFlex format, students can choose whether they want to participate in the course on site, via synchronous virtual participation using a web conferencing tool (cf. also hybrid teaching), or whether they want to work through the course entirely in asynchronous self-study - and are provided with adequate learning materials for this purpose by the lecturers. This format offers students a high degree of autonomy and flexibility, but is associated with corresponding challenges for teachers.
Testimonials (only available in German):
Source: vgl. EDUCAUSE: The HyFlex Course Model. 7 things you should know about. (07/2020): https://library.educause.edu/-/media/files/library/2020/7/eli7173.pdf
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