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COVID-19 - Course Delivery Methods

Remote vs. Online Instruction

When you register for courses via Student Planning, you will see three course instruction modes:

  • Online

  • Hybrid

  • Remote Delivery


In short, an online course allows you to work through the material at a time that is convenient for your schedule, as they do not have a scheduled class time. 

“Not Online” courses refer to Remote Delivery or Face to Face (on-campus) courses. A limited number of courses for Fall 2020 will be available in a Face-to-Face format. For a full list of courses, please see

Remote delivery courses are delivered by distance, using a combination of technologies such as Zoom and D2L to combine synchronous and asynchronous instruction. In-person courses, not delivered online, have classes that are delivered face-to-face on the Laurentian University campus. They typically have a scheduled class time for real-time class engagement. 

Many courses are offered through both remote and online delivery methods. Consider your class schedule and what mode of delivery is best for you. More detailed information about course delivery mode, is below:


Online Instruction

Online courses have been developed with the intention for fully online delivery.  Instructional experiences are designed in a planned manner, over weeks and months, most often with support of an instructional designer and a media services team. The learning experiences and instructional objects in an online course are typically fully developed before the start of a semester. These courses incorporate various instructional strategies and can utilize various educational technologies that allow students to meaningfully interact with course content, the instructor and fellow students, while still allowing some flexibility in the students’ schedule.

Remote teaching occurs when the instructor transitions the delivery of an on-campus course to online. An online course, however, has been purposely designed for online teaching using online learning design principles. The table below illustrates some differences between these modes of course delivery.


Remove vs. online course delivery





Fixed schedules and time frames
Lectures and class discussions at established times

Work through course content at your own pace.
Instructors assigns deadlines, but can work through modules at a time in the day or evening that is convenient for your schedule.


Real-time interactions
Active discussion
Opportunity to ask questions and receive answers during class time

Discussion board postings or individual email, but not in real time. Replies are not instantaneous. 

Type of instruction

Asynchronous (i.e. recorded lectures) OR synchronous (i.e. real-time classes in the web conferencing applications).
Content is created and distributed to students on a weekly basis.

Primarily asynchronous (no set schedule)
Content and learning activities are fully developed and accessible to the student before the course begins.


Similar to face-to-face instruction
Ability to interact with instructor and fellow students in real time

Flexibility for work schedule and time zones
Ability to review material without concern over the speed of a lecture or the pace of other students


Live sessions (using Zoom, Google Meet or other platforms); 

pre-recorded videos

Instructor presence

Similar to face-to-face instruction Instructor will attend classes and will post e-office hours

Students are expected to be self-directed with regular interaction with the instructor to monitor progress and provide feedback

Interactions with classmates

Periodic; often instructor initiated.

Interaction varies based on learning activities using the discussion forum on D2L.


Blended (Hybrid) Instruction

Blended learning typically combines in-class instruction with asynchronous exercises and content that are consumed outside the class time. Hybrid learning on the other hand, typically refers to a method of teaching remote and in-person students at the same time via virtual instruction solutions. Most Laurentian courses, which were originally scheduled for face-to face will now blend synchronous and asynchronous approaches, but some Laurentian courses are classified as “hybrid”.

For example, some EDUC courses are labelled, “Hybrid”, which are taught both as face-to-face and online. The course has specific dates for the online portion, as well as specific dates for the face-to-face portion.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Instruction

Synchronous learning is remote or distance education that happens in real time, whereas asynchronous learning occurs through online channels without real-time interaction. Many blended learning models will include a combination of both asynchronous and synchronous online learning.


Synchronous Instruction

  • Synchronous: instructors and students gather at the same time and interact in “real time” with a very short or “near-real time” exchange between instructors and students
    • e.g., live Zoom classes; Google Meets


Asynchronous Instruction

  • Asynchronous: instructors prepare course materials for students in advance of students’ access. Students may access the course materials at a time of their choosing and will interact with each over a longer period of time.

    • e.g., recorded Zoom sessions; Panopto recorded lectures; posting content on D2L; D2L discussion forums

Instructors may choose to engage their students synchronously or asynchronously depending on the course content or material that needs to be taught. In general, faculty members will use a “blended” approach, which refers to the following:

  1. Some learning happens online in a format where the student has control over the path and pace at which they engage with content;

  2. Some learning happens in an instructor-led format;

  3. Online and in-person learning is complementary, creating a truly integrated learning environment;

  4. For many instructors, video is the primary delivery vehicle for blended learning content.

    1. For example, some instructors will require students to review lecture materials prior to class. Most often this involves recording short video lectures that typically include a screen recording of slides, a webcam recording of the instructor, a video of a demonstration — or a combination of the three. The video is typically then shared with students through D2L/Brightspace

    2. In other blended learning courses, instructors record videos for use as supplemental course material, designed to help students with more challenging concepts, or for those that wish to deepen their understanding of the subject. Alternatively, instructors can record tutorials to introduce students to concepts, software or equipment that will be used in subsequent classes.

Frequently Asked Questions

A: In-person courses have classes that are delivered face-to-face on the Laurentian University campus. Remote delivery courses are delivered by distance, using a combination of technologies such as Zoom and D2L. They typically have a scheduled class time for real-time class engagement. Online courses allow you to work on the material at a time that is convenient for your schedule, as they do not have a scheduled class time. 

Many courses are offered through both remote and online delivery methods. You should consider your class schedule and what mode of delivery is best for you.

A: Synchronous delivery means that the class is delivered in real-time. An example would be a live Zoom session where you are able to listen to course material, ask questions, and interact with your peers.

A: Asynchronous delivery means that the material can be accessed at any time. Your instructor might post a recorded lecture on D2L for example, or you may be asked to post answers to discussion questions in a discussion forum.

A: The method of class delivery will depend on your instructor, but most remote courses will be blended, which means a combination of synchronous and asynchronous delivery. All Laurentian Online (fully online) courses are delivered asynchronously to permit students from various time zones or with varied home/life schedules to access the material when it is convenient for them. 

A: The deans and department chairs are working hard to be able to make these decisions and this information will be communicated to all students as soon as possible.

A: We are here to support you through this process. Managing your time, finding a quiet space to work, and following self-directed studying are all key aspects to consider. For support, please reach out to the Centre for Academic Excellence.

A. Yes, online students are able to take synchronous remote learning courses. As these courses will have lectures via Zoom at set times during the week, you will need to ensure that you have reliable internet connectivity and time available to attend the live lectures.

A. The section 01, 02, 03...refers to on-campus sections of the same course which may have a different instructor and be held at different times throughout the day. The section codes of 10 and 12 refers to courses that are fully online in an asynchronous format where there are no weekly live lectures

A: Online courses have the same learning outcomes as on-campus courses. The assignments are mostly text-based and may involve postings on the discussion forum instead of in-class participation; research essays, group work, case studies, quizzes, take-home exams, etc.

To help you decide which online course to take, Laurentian Online provides a calendar with the course description, method of evaluation including assignment type and required and recommended textbooks on their website

A: Online courses are delivered asynchronously, so you can work on the material when it is convenient for your schedule/time zone. For remote delivery courses, material will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous methods. For example, your instructors may host a live Zoom session, but record it and post it on D2L for people to review later or to accommodate students who are in a different time zone. If you are taking a remote delivery course and attending a live class is not feasible for your schedule, you should communicate with your professor in order to make alternative arrangements.

A: At the present time, decisions have only been made for Fall (3-credit) and Fall/Winter (6-credit) terms. As soon as the Winter term decisions are made, students will receive notification.

A: Yes. Faculty members will continue to hold regular office hours, plus will communicate via D2L, e-mail or other means.

A. Yes. The library remains open via remote access, students can access online journals and reference services. Physical access to the library will be adjusted in step with government protocols. 

A: No. Only courses that require a hands-on component will be conducted on campus. For theoretical courses or lecture-based courses, remote delivery will occur.