Modalities Guide

Key Considerations

There are seven teaching modalities at UW-Green Bay. Given the number, it would be easy to be overwhelmed or think that there are special techniques which are unique to each mode that an instructor should master. This is not the case. Rather than thinking of each mode as separate, it is easier to break the modes down into more manageable categories.

Synchronous versus asynchronous

One way to think about the various modes is to stretch them along a continuum of completely synchronous (students can only participate by being in a space at a particular time) or asynchronous (students can participate on their own schedule). While none of the modes are completely synchronous or asynchronous, they all fall at different places along the continuum. As an instructor, you may wish to ask yourself what works for you.

(completely synchronous) -> in-person, ->interactive video, in-person with streaming capability, virtual classroom -> hybrid, blended -> online -> (completely asynchronous)

Amount of hardware

As with synchronicity, some modes require more hardware than others. Virtual classroom and online teaching for example, require very little hardware to learn. Once an instructor masters the basics of using Canvas, their learning curve is much shallower than instructors in environments which require more hardware, such as interactive video or in-person with streaming capability.

In-person classes are not immune from learning hardware. There are document cameras and instructor stations to master. In addition, as students quarantine for safety, many instructors seek hardware solutions – cameras, microphones, etc. – to stream their classes to students who will attend remotely but do so in an ad hoc way.

How will communication flow?

Who communicates with who and how is an important question to consider. Lecture-based classes lend themselves well to formats which support that style. In-person with streaming capability, interactive video, and in-person can be great options for lecture-based classes.

Discussion-based classes and seminars may lend themselves to modes which lend themselves to student-to-student interaction. Virtual classroom, online, and in-person can be good options for discussion-based classes. Zoom – which supports virtual classroom – or Canvas – which underpins online – and physical classrooms – which house in-person classes are great technologies for encouraging student-to-student interaction.

Any format can accommodate multiple communication patterns. But it is useful to think about how the technology which supports the mode can also support the types of interactions you wish to have in your class.

In sum, it is less important to memorize the ins and outs of the various modes and more important to look into which modes best support your preferred teaching style.

Overview of UWGB Modalities

This video, provided by the UWGB Provost’s office, is a brief guide to the modalities available to our instructors. While the video details a few of the considerations as you select your modality, it is just an overview. If you’d like more detailed guidance in selecting your modalities, please schedule a CATL consultation.