Distance Education vs. Web-Oriented (Online) Classes

You may have heard of the distinction between an online course (or Web-Oriented course) and a Distance Education (DE) course. DE courses have been designed for students to be able to take classes from UBC without having to come to campus. As a result, when compared to a standard face-to-face course, DE courses typically offer less interaction with the instructor and other students, along with more asynchronous, go-at-your-own-pace content delivery and assessments (e.g., take-home exams). Though the distinction is not always clear-cut, online (as opposed to DE) courses typically offer more interaction with instructors and other students, albeit online, and so more synchronous content delivery and assessments when compared to DE courses.

The modifications to teaching brought by COVID-19 compresses the distinction. Though you might expect more synchronous time with online courses in September than you might expect with a typical DE course, instructors will be mindful of the possibility that students might be in very different time zones, and so many of them will make use of asynchronous content delivery (e.g., posting lectures online) and asynchronous assessments (e.g., take-home exams). That said, many instructors will be considering some synchronous time with students for lectures or discussions, and many will consider synchronous forms of assessment, such as use of Proctorio and other remote services for administering exams in real time. We encourage you to consult the syllabuses of individual courses for more accurate and detailed information about how your online course will be conducted.

Additionally, please keep in mind that, under UBC’s current policy, there is a DE course administration fee, as well as a DE course credit limit. Taking DE courses may also affect your eligibility for US Direct Loan funding.

If you have further questions about DE courses, you can contact Enrolment Services or the Philosophy Department.

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