Streamline Instruction Across Modalities

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Traditional face-to-face education featuring evanescent content delivery, hands-on activities, and social learning has been the mainstay of education (Vygotsky, 1962). Blended and online options have become more prevalent as reliable internet connectivity and technology have increased, and, indeed, online education has strived to emulate face-to face qualities. However, engagement, motivation, and retention of students in virtual environments have been considerations.

Online education scholars concur that online students benefit greatly from strategies of redundancy (Cargile Cook & Grant-Davie, 2013; Lehman & Conceicao, 2014; Warnock, 2009). Often redundancy has been explicitly aimed at increasing accessibility for students with specific learning accommodations, but an added implicit benefit is that those same strategies of redundancy often benefit and engage all students. Specific strategies of redundancy may include chunking content in organized modules and presenting it in multiple modalities, modeling organization and time management, and fostering multi-way online community, presence, and peer support.

These strategies have often been discussed in the context of asynchronous online education, but I would like to suggest that by streamlining instruction across modalities and bridging these strategies of redundancy into face-to-face, mixed mode, and synchronous remote courses by providing enduring content in organized modules on the online platform, instructors can extend the benefits of redundancy to more students.

Link to example artifact(s)

Teacher: Jennifer Roth Miller,  University of Central Florida
Course:  (COM3311) Communication Research Methods

I teach several sections of COM3311, Communication Research Methods, at the University of Central Florida (UCF) across a variety of modalities – fully online, blended (known as mixed-mode at UCF), and face-to-face. As a practice, I have been working to streamline this course across modalities, because I have found that all students, not only those in online classes, can benefit from the redundancy, organization, chunking, and permanency of delivering the material in Webcourses (how UCF casually refers to our Canvas-based online learning platform) in weekly modules following a recurring weekly schedule. Simultaneously, I also draw from and attempt to extend the social learning benefits of face-to-face instruction to the online classes.

The online classes receive lecture material (PowerPoints and notes) and assignments in a consistent weekly module structure. The mixed-mode and face-to-face classes receive the same module, including the PowerPoints and notes, in Webcourses each week, but also meet in person. In class, the classes with a face-to-face component receive a lecture on the content and participate in relevant hands-on activities with their peers. In order to provide the same to the online students, I have begun video recording the lectures and posting them for the online classes. Ultimately, the content is delivered textually, auditorily, and visually and is available before, during, and after it is directly covered.

I have also been working on converting the hands-on activities to online discussions. In the face-to-face/mixed-mode versions, students work in teams in class to complete the activities and discuss their experiences. They get credit for being present to participate. In the online version, the students complete the activity on their own and then discuss their experience in an online discussion with peers. They get credit for submitting a response and engaging in dialogue with peers. I post the same online version in the weekly module for the face-to-face/mixed-mode classes and allow students who missed class to participate online for partial credit. It seems to work well because it gives students who miss class a second-chance opportunity to learn at home. Also, it motivates some to come to class because it’s less work to come to class and participate verbally, rather than writing. This additionally addresses various strengths and weaknesses or learning style preferences for particular students, as well as attendance issues.


Sample Recurring Weekly Schedule

What to Expect – Recurring Weekly Schedule
Below is the recurring weekly schedule this course follows:
Monday & Tuesday – View weekly module in Webcourses. Read weekly content.
Tuesday – Lecture and notes provided by instructor.
Between weekly modules – Flex time (catch up on reading, studying, and research milestones, complete quiz on weekly content, participate in discussions, provide feedback to your peers).
Sundays (all work for week due) – Online quiz on weekly content due. Weekly research milestones and discussions are due.

Sample Hands-On Learning Activity

Choose a product, movie, book, artist, business, or organization that has online reviews available (Amazon, Google, Yelp reviews for example) for analysis. Look through 25 or so reviews to identify themes. Use this as an opportunity to practice how you could use grounded theory methodology/content analysis to analyze qualitative data. Can you identify and quantify themes? Does a theory about people’s attitudes begin to emerge? Write a short summary of the themes you uncovered and discuss what you found with your peers. How could you utilize qualitative analysis methods for your project?


The recent global COVID-19 pandemic has forced instructors at all levels across the globe to rethink education modalities and practices. While online and distance learning is not new, crises such as this pandemic incite motive to quickly reflect and adapt given new constraints. Drawing from what we already know about face-to-face and online education, redundancy and streamlining instruction across modalities poises education well to adapt, improve, and reinvent a variety of evolving modalities.

Link to scholarly reference(s)

Cargile Cook, K., & Grant-Davie, K. (2013). Online education 2.0: Evolving, adapting, and reinventing online technical communication. Amityville, NY: Baywood Publishing Company, Inc.

Lehman, R. M., & Conceicao, S. C. O. (2014). Motivating and retaining online students: Research-based strategies that work. San Fransisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1962). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (Original work published in 1934).

Warnock, S. (2009). Teaching writing online: How and why. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.


Miller, J. (2020). Streamline instruction across modalities. In A. deNoyelles, A. Albrecht, S. Bauer, & S. Wyatt (Eds.), Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Center for Distributed Learning.

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