Monthly Archives: September 2014

Online Talent Development Part 4

Types and Extent of Online Talent Development

by Mark Sivy

Different forms of online learning exist that vary based upon the intended outcomes, level of interactivity, number of connected users, and the forms of communication which are used.


Four general types are:

  • Passive Information

Usually low level of interactivity, single user, reading.

This can provide on-demand learning as in the case of online frequently-asked-questions or other knowledge bases which were purposefully created to provide some form of specific information for learners. This could be related a certain topic, process, task, or product. Other online information sources such as blogs, wikis, and websites can also provide passive learning. These are posted for public access and can be found through searches or “web-surfing”. Since the learning they provide usually require nothing more than reading, only low levels of interactivity and engagement occur.

passive online learning

  • Web-based Dialogue

Usually moderate level of interactivity, multiple users, text-based communication exchanges.

Learning occurs through the use of forums, chat rooms, discussion boards, text-messaging, e-mail, or live instant-messaging. This form of learning often involves a knowledgeable person who responds to questions or comments by providing needed information.

  • Synchronous

Usually moderate to high level of interactivity, multiple users, various forms of sensory input.

This occurs in real-time with a live instructor presenting information or with a facilitator guiding learning activities and processes. The experience can somewhat be similar to a traditional class meeting, but the online meeting differs in that the participants are geographically separated and they use specialized meeting technologies and strategies. Everyone logs into the common application or system at a specified time and for a given length of time. An event can happen once or meetings can occur on a regular basis for as many times as is required. Communication typically involves text, voice, and sometimes video.

online collaboration

  • Asynchronous

Usually moderate to high level of interactivity, single to multiple users, various forms of sensory input.

This is the most commonly used category for organized web-based talent development. It involves self-paced learning which means the learner accesses materials, resources, activities, etc. at a time that fits their schedule and physical environment. Often asynchronous learning occurs through a well-designed website or learning management system course which has been developed by an instructor or instructional designer.

For more on synchronous and asynchronous online learning, read EDUCAUSE and articles.

Reflection Point 1 – I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand. ~ Confucius

online talent developmentExtent of Online Learning

Online learning can also be described based upon the degree to which the learning occurs online:

  • Fully online – the instruction and learning occurs almost completely in the online environment.
  • Hybrid / Blended – there is a blend between substantial learning occurring both online and face-to-face.
  • Supplemental – the majority of learning occurs in the physical classroom with ancillary materials and resources available online.

Reflection Point 2 – Good teaching is good teaching, no matter how it’s done. ~ Anonymous