Comparing Classroom Types

Below describes three various classroom models and their distinct similarities and differences in teaching and learning, as well as effective teaching techniques that can be used in each setting.


Face-to-Face Classroom – Meeting with students in a classroom setting where the instructor stands in front of his or her students is considered to be a traditional model of teaching.

Teaching – In this type of classroom a teacher often uses lectures as the main tool for transmitting knowledge to students.  For this reason, teachers spend a majority of their instructional planning time on developing informative and interesting lectures that will motivate and inspire students on the subject matter. In addition, teachers use assessments as the main method of evaluating student progress in a traditional classroom, as well as papers and homework to check in on student understanding (Bates & Watson, 2008).  Teachers who teach in this type of setting have the benefit of getting to personally know their students and discover their interests, likes, hobbies, and personalities.  Having knowledge of those factors can help when planning lessons.  Traditional classroom teachers can also monitor student progress on a regular basis, which allows for him or her to differentiate appropriately and immediately for his or her students.

Learning – According to Bates and Watson (2008) students who partake in face-to-face classes have rich conversations with one another, which allow them to share their ideas and learn from one another (p. 43).  With the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and new standards-based assessments, it is more important than ever for students to work together to solve problems and complete tasks. In addition, the social aspect of a traditional classroom is more present than in any other type of setting.  Learning how to appropriately interact and communicate with peers is as equally as important as academic learning, since they are life-long skills that a student will need in order to build future personal and professional relationships.

Teaching Technique – Much like its name “active learning” is learning by being active, whether it is through talking, writing, reading, reflecting, questioning, games, or activities.  It is an approach different from the strategy of lecturing, which is a often used in the traditional classroom. According to the University of Minnesota’s Center for Teaching and Learning (2008) “research shows that active learning improves students’ understanding and retention of information and can be very effective in developing higher order cognitive skills such as problem solving and critical thinking”.

Hybrid Classroom – A hybrid classroom splits instructional time between the classroom setting and an online forum. Crawford, Smith, and Smith (2000) refer to the hybrid classroom as the “best of both worlds” as it allows for some face-to-face interaction combined with online interactive activities. (p. 1).

Teaching – As a teacher in a hybrid classroom it is important for the teacher to have skills to effectively teach in front of a classroom, as well as via a computer.  Since a hybrid combines both environments, the teacher needs to blend both types of teaching, including direct instruction and guided discovery.  To stimulate student interest a traditional classroom teacher “may use charisma, humor, interesting lectures, and current cases to stimulate student interest” while an online classroom teacher can use “games, puzzles, and flash exercises” (Bates & Watson, 2008).  A hybrid classroom teacher has the benefit of using all of those techniques to get students engaged in learning.

Learning – Students attend class only half the time in a hybrid situation and spend the other half completing activities online.  In a hybrid classroom a student can have a mixture of formats for assignments, activities, quizzes, and test.  Some of these elements may take place during the face-to-face class meetings, while other elements will need to be completed on a computer and submitted electronically. A student in a hybrid classroom has the added benefit of making personal connections with peers and the teacher, while also having the experience with technology.

Teaching Technique – According to Dautermann (2007), “cooperative and collaborative learning are instructional approaches in which students work together in small groups to accomplish a common learning goal”.  This would be an appropriate teaching technique for a hybrid classroom because it would allow for the small groups to work together in a face-to-face setting and then continue working together through electronic communication.

Online Classroom – In an online classroom there is no face-to-face interaction between teachers or peers. Teachers and students communicate solely through the use of technology. 

Teaching – One significant difference for teachers in an online classroom compared to a traditional classroom is the lack of face time with the students.  The communication and teaching takes place completely online, which requires a teacher to have a broad understanding and experience with technology.  Compared to traditional learning, where much of the teaching is conducted through direct instruction or lectures, online learning uses the strategy of guided discovery.   Bates and Watson (2008) describe guided discovery as when “students learn on their own by observing phenomena, asking questions, allowing time for inquiry, or conducting activities and experiments followed by feedback” (p. 40).  Guided discovery is more learner-centered where the teacher’s role is to provide varying levels of guidance.

Learning – In an online classroom students engage in web-based learning. According to Bates & Watson (2008), “through online instruction a student can learn by reading text, listening to audio, observing either still or animated images, watching videos, interacting with a virtual environment, or communicating via electronic mail” (p. 39).  Online learning provides students with a wide range of methods for learning content, which helps to engage students in the information.  For the most part online learning can be completed anytime and anywhere, which presents an element of convenience that the other classroom environments do not.

Teaching Technique – According to Blumberg (2008), “the learner-centered teaching approach emphasizes a variety of different types of methods that shifts the role of the instructors from givers of information to facilitating student learning”.  This is a useful technique for online learning because the teacher is not able to deliver the information directly to students; therefore they need to be proficient at guiding students to learn the information on their own.

Question: What type of classroom do you teach in and what do you like about it?  If you are not a teacher, then what type of learning environment do you think you would prefer and why?

Click here for three useful teaching strategies that can be used in any classroom model

The digitally mediated learning activity that will be used for my final project requires students to learn about a specific animal’s life cycle through the use of the I-Pad. The students will use the I-Pad to learn about the life cycle, as well as create a diagram that includes photographs, labels, and an oral recorded description of the cycle.  Students will be working in partnerships in the context of a traditional classroom model.  At a young age it is beneficial for students to have the face-to-face interaction with their peers in order to build social and collaboration skills.


Bates, C., & Watson, M. (2008). Re-learning teaching techniques to be effective in hybrid and online courses. Journal of American Academy of Business, Cambridge. 13(1), 38-44. Retrieved from

Blumberg, P. (2008) Developing learner-centered teachers: A practical guide for faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Retrieved from

Crawford, C. M., Smith, R. A., & Smith, M. S. (2008). Course student satisfaction results: Differentiation between face-to-face, hybrid, and online learning environments. CEDER Yearbook, 135-149. Retrieved from

Dautermann, Jennie (2007). Cooperative learning. Retrieved from

University of Minnesota’s Center for Teaching and Learning. (2008). Making Active Learning Work. Retrieved from


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