What’s in a Name? Canvassing the Terms We Use for Digital Learning
Concurrent Session 2
The terms used to describe forms of digital learning (e.g., online, blended, hyflex) in higher education have multiplied in recent years and have led to confusion among faculty, staff, and students. Several organizations partnered to survey how institutions, departments, or programs define these terms. What do you think we found?
What’s in a name? Juliet supposed that Romeo would be the person she loved regardless of his last name…and why should that make a difference? In academia, we are very keen on our nomenclature. At times the distinctions are necessary and at other times our language only serves to hinder effective communication.
Many in the digital learning community observed that there are a wide variety of terms to describe the use of technologies in postsecondary instruction. Examples of the terms include online, blended, hybrid, hyflex, distance, remote, synchronous, and flexible learning. The growing use of instructional technologies as a result of the remote pivot due to COVID-19 has only increased the number of terms and potential misuse of terms. The result is that some have observed confusion among faculty, staff, and students when using different terms to describe the same activity.
Leading organizations in distance and online learning in the U.S. and Canada partnered on a survey to determine how institutions, departments, or programs define these terms and which activities faculty are using in different learning modalities. The survey, conducted in May – early June 2022 attracted about 2,000 respondents. That participation indicates the great interest in this topic.
One section of the survey presented simple definitions of online, hybrid, hyflex, in-person, synchronous, and asynchronous learning to ascertain the level of agreement by respondents with the proposed wording. Our goal was not to settle on definitive definitions, but to see how close higher education professionals were in their agreement on how the terms are used.
The session will present the results of the survey. Participants will be engaged in some gamification as they guess the results of some of the questions. Finally, they will have the opportunity to ask questions and provide some feedback on the terms used and the necessity (or not) for more commonality in these definitions.
NOTE: Poulin will be at the onsite meeting, but the other two will not. We can talk if you also want some version of this onsite, as well as virtually.