Teaching Modalities

Instructional strategies and tools have been developed to support In-person, Online, Hybrid, and Multi-Access delivery modes.

Types of UBC Course Delivery Modes 

  • In-Person: The course activity takes place in-person. 
  • Online: The course activity is fully online and does not require any in-person attendance to complete. 
  • Hybrid: The course activity has a mixture of mandatory in-person and online activities as designed by the instructor. 
  • Multi-Access: The course activity gives students the choice to attend either in person or online, as designed by the instructor. 

In some courses, one activity may be delivered online while another activity is in-person, so an “online”, “hybrid”, or “multi-access” designation as the Mode of Delivery for a course does not necessarily imply that all the course elements are fully online. For example, a course may have an online lecture, with the lab component conducted on campus.  

The same principles of course design apply regardless of teaching modality. Similarly, some instructional tools, such Camtasia and Kaltura from MyMedia for video production, and live stream and/or recording with Zoom (including Zoom Live Captioning and Zoom with GenAI) may be useful across all modalities.

Considerations for Specific Learning Modalities


When a class or cohort meets online, it may be particularly challenging to engage learners and create a welcoming and inclusive environment. An activity that can help create a sense of community from day one involves co-creating norms and agreements around expectations for online engagement [need link from Electra], such as deciding if/when turning off a video feed is appropriate and guiding interactions in break-out rooms.

In addition, Integrating Indigenous Pedagogies into Online Learning and Facilitating Online Learning with the 5Rs  can help all learners establish respect, find relevance, take responsibility, and contribute to reciprocity and relationship-building.  

The instructor can also model introductions through a positionality statement and provide space/time for learners to introduce themselves whether in smaller break-out rooms or class size-permitting, the whole class. Incorporating images, memes, artifacts (an item available to the learner in their physical space), sound bites can make for fun and memorable introductions. The Canvas Discussion board can also serve as a space for sharing that can be revisited throughout the course to continue to build connections.  

Beyond the first day/week, there are ways that you can help students stay focused on learning and increase overall participation in an online synchronous space.  

  • Begin class with check-in on how everyone is doing (everyone can choose meme to share, put on Zoom filter such as party hat) OR a low-stakes activity in a break-out room 
  • Use the chat function in Zoom to request waterfall responses, questions, contributions such as relevant websites, examples 
  • Use polling  to gauge interest/choice, make in-the-moment decisions around reviewing or moving on to next concept 
  • Request hand-raise and thumbs up/down tools strategically, for example to support transitions between activities 
  • Maximize break-out rooms as opportunities for think-pair/group-share, problem-solving; rotate among groups as you would in a physical space 

If all components of your course are asynchronous, then the design of activities and choice of instructional strategies will largely determine how and the extent to which learners engage with you and one another. Check out a digital copy through the UBC Library of Darby & Lang’s (2019) Small Teaching Online that provides “small teaching strategies that will positively impact the online classroom.”  

Teaching online can be a rewarding, exhilarating experience.  With the advent of widespread internet access in the late 1990s, there has been much research conducted about teaching and learning online.  One of the most respected models that came out of this research is the Community of Inquiry (Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 1999). The authors  assert that a good quality online learning experience can happen when learners can express themselves online in an authentic way (Social Presence), the instructor is actively involved in the learning process (Teaching presence) and the learner can show their knowledge of the course content (Cognitive presence). As shown below, deep, and meaningful learning occurs when all three are present.  

Three concentric circles depicting the community of inquiry that includes social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence.

Through instructional design and workshops, the Center for Teaching & Learning can help with all these elements to help ensure a rich learning experience for the student and a rewarding experience for the instructor. Reach out to CTL today. 



Consider what types of assessment strategies are appropriate feasible for your context. Incorporating some formative online assessments that allow for multiple attempts and provide automated feedback will support learning and familiarity with the assessment tool and types of questions. Multiple-choice quizzes can serve as effective formative assessment if exams will be delivered in the same format. There are many other ways to gauge progress and provide practice. Laurillard (2021) showcases three in a short video: 

  • Creating pre-class automated quizzes to provide useful insight into students’ understanding  
  • Using peer review to support “meaningful tests” to aid learning 
  • Blended assessment using video to introduce and feedback on students’ assignments  


There are also an increasing number of digital assessments that can be used for both formative and summative assessment:

  • OER Assessments & open-authoring tools (Merlot Content Builder, OER Commons Open Author, H5P Auto-feed & Learning Tools, GitHub, QUBES) 
  • IClicker 
  • Canvas Classic Quiz 
  • Team-based Learning 
  • Kahoot 
  • Jupyter Notebook & Otter Grader for homework (physics) 
  • WeB Work Online Homework System for math and science: https://webwork.elearning.ubc.ca/webwork2/
  • GenAI Assessments 
  • Learning Analytics 
  • Crowdmark 
  • Gradescope 



Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (1999). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The internet and higher education, 2(2-3), 87-105.

Flower Darby, & James M. Lang. (2019). Small Teaching Online : Applying Learning Science in Online Classes: Vol. First edition. Jossey-Bass.  

Laurillard, D. (2021). Digital methods of formative assessment that boost learning.  Times Higher Education. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/campus/digital-methods-formative-assessment-boost-learning

There are advantages, disadvantages, and ideal uses for synchronous and asynchronous modes of teaching  and ways of finding balance between using them. The main question to ask is whether an activity requires/benefits from real-time interactions or whether it requires/benefits independent work or long-term engagement.  

Some decisions regarding a hybrid course will evolve during course design and following constructive alignment and Universal Design for Learning. Additional considerations will include selecting the most effective and user-friendly learning technology tools to support your goals for the course. These could include active learning, community-building, providing feedback, and communication.



Office of Teaching and Learning. Handout 3: Key Effective Practices in Hybrid & Blended Courses, University of Guelph.  https://otl.uoguelph.ca/system/files/Handout%203%20Key%20Effective%20Practices%20in%20Blended%20Hybrid%20Learning%20%20%281%29.pdf

Office of Teaching and Learning. Handout: Delivery and Engagement Modes for Each Course Element, University of Guelph. https://otl.uoguelph.ca/system/files/Handout%202%20Delivery%20and%20Engagement%20Modes%20%281%29.pdf

The Multi-Access option allows students flexibility in how they attend scheduled synchronous classes. This practice supports accessibility and well-being, but it can also lack the structure needed by learners and complicate lesson planning and delivery. Thus, it is helpful to define expectations for multi-access.  

Questions to consider: 

  • Will the multi-access option be available on an as-needed basis?  
  • How much advanced notice do you need to be able to facilitate a multi-access lesson?  
  • Do you have a TA to support learners joining online while you engage with those in person? 

Also, meeting in a multi-access format necessitates the use of technology to enable learners to participate both in-person and online, including hearing one another and the instructor. Questions to consider include: 

  • What technologies are available in the room and on your laptop to support a multi-access modality? 
  • Are there two screens in the room so that students can see projected content as well as the students joining via Zoom? 
  • What speakers are available so those in the room can hear what students online are saying? 
  • Is there a camera that can follow the speaker in the room, capture the full room, zoom in?