The Difference Between Emergency Remote Teaching and Online Learning — from by Charles Hodges, Stephanie Moore, Barb Lockee, Torrey Trust and Aaron Bond
Well-planned online learning experiences are meaningfully different from courses offered online in response to a crisis or disaster. Colleges and universities working to maintain instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic should understand those differences when evaluating this emergency remote teaching.


Researchers in educational technology, specifically in the subdiscipline of online and distance learning, have carefully defined terms over the years to distinguish between the highly variable design solutions that have been developed and implemented: distance learning, distributed learning, blended learning, online learning, mobile learning, and others. Yet an understanding of the important differences has mostly not diffused beyond the insular world of educational technology and instructional design researchers and professionals. Here, we want to offer an important discussion around the terminology and formally propose a specific term for the type of instruction being delivered in these pressing circumstances: emergency remote teaching.

Many active members of the academic community, including some of us, have been hotly debating the terminology in social media, and “emergency remote teaching” has emerged as a common alternative term used by online education researchers and professional practitioners to draw a clear contrast with what many of us know as high-quality online education. Some readers may take issue with the use of the term “teaching” over choices such as “learning” or “instruction.” Rather than debating all of the details of those concepts, we selected “teaching” because of its simple definitions—”the act, practice, or profession of a teacher”5 and “the concerted sharing of knowledge and experience,”6—along with the fact that the first tasks undertaken during emergency changes in delivery mode are those of a teacher/instructor/professor.