Different Instructional Methods

As you might imagine, the different teaching styles outlined above can translate into preferred methods of instruction. An instructional method can be defined as the process by which instruction occurs, whether that might be lecture, class discussion, small group discussion, simulation, experience, or individual project.

The table below summarizes some of the instructional methods that can be affiliated with the various teaching styles and how they both translate to the online environment. If you are thinking about transitioning your face-to-face classroom instruction to the online environment, this might be helpful.


Instructional Method Teaching Style Online Relevance
Lecture: A flexible method which can be applied to almost any content. Although lectures can be very engaging, they put students in a passive role. Formal Authority Although some instructors can be vibrant speakers, lectures do not translate well to video or text formats. It is suggested that lectures be broken up with other, more active, instructional methods.
Lecture-Discussions: Combines the lecture with short question periods or a series of short question periods for students. Formal Authority These tend to work fairly well online; however, instructors need to make sure that any video clips are transcribed for ADA compliance.
Demonstrations: Involves students learning a process or procedure based on instructor performance. The students may be involved in the demonstration and practice. Demonstrator This method can work very well online as the instructor can demonstrate tasks on video. Some technically savvy instructors are exploring Virtual Worlds for demonstration and simulation.
Simulations: Simulations put learners into seemingly real situations where they can make decisions and experience the outcomes of their decisions without the risk. Simulations could be used in biology, such as the dissection of a frog, or anthropology, where students could "dig" and process artifacts. Facilitator / Delegator Although this method can work very well, simulations can be time consuming to set up in the online environment. It is usually a good idea to see if the textbook publisher has any resources or if they have been developed by another instructor in an online database such as Merlot.
Collaborative Learning: Students process information and derive knowledge through discussing course-related issues and topics with each other. Facilitator The method works well online, especially in conjunction with the Groups function of CE 6.0, which allows instructors to break the class into small groups within Discussions.
Cooperative Learning: Small groups of students work together to solve a problem or complete a task. Facilitator This method also works well online using the Groups function.
Case Studies: This involves individuals or groups of students working together to analyze a case, a real-life situation which has been written up to highlight problems and solutions. Facilitator This method works well online and does not take a great deal of time to set up using Discussions.
Role Play: Students work to solve problems through adopting the different roles associated with it. Role play involves identifying, acting out, and discussing problems. Facilitator This method works well online and does not take a great deal of time to set up using Discussions.
Problem Based and Inquiry Learning: Instructors give students a problem which the student must solve by gathering data, organizing data, and attempting an explanation. Students should also analyze strategies that they used to solve the problem. Delegator This method could be done online by utilizing a technique called a WebQuest, which asks students to solve problems using information found online.

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