Instructional Modalities

APU categorizes classes using one of five instructional modalities. All class sections should be appropriately identified using the definitions below. Instructional modalities provide critical information to students by setting expectations for their learning experiences. Accurate use of instructional modalities also ensures APU’s ability to reliably report on methods of class delivery.


In-person: classes deliver 100% of their instruction face to face and have required classroom attendance. Students meet on a regularly scheduled basis and may encounter internet and/or computer requirements in these classes.

Blended: classes deliver at least 33% but less than 50% of their instruction in an online format and include required classroom attendance and online instruction, which can be either synchronous or asynchronous. Compared with in-person classes, blended classes have substantial activity conducted online, which substitutes for some classroom meetings.

Online asynchronous: classes deliver 50% or more of their instruction in an online format but have no required live virtual meetings. Students have a time frame for participation each week, but they may contribute whenever they choose in accordance with course instructions. Some asynchronous courses may offer optional live sessions such as desktop video chats, but live, real-time class meetings are not required.

Online synchronous: deliver 50% or more of their instruction in an online format. These classes require students to meet online at specified times for live instructions, student presentations, or other real-time activities. Synchronous online classes have no campus meeting place; rather, students log into the online classroom from off-site locations. These classes may have specific technology requirements.

Distance learning: classes originate in a campus classroom where the instructor and students meet. Video-conference technology allows additional students from off-site locations to interact with the instructor and students at the campus classroom using video, audio, and text. These classes may have specific technology requirements.

Who Determines Instructional Modalities?

The academic department identifies the instructional modality of a class as part of the standard scheduling materials submitted to the registrar. If necessary, the academic department can consult with the Office of Curricular Support and/or the Office of Innovative Teaching and Technology to determine the best instructional modality for a class.

Approval Process

Note that before a course can be officially approved and listed by the registrar as blended, distance learning, or online, the course needs to go through the appropriate approval process outlined below.

Moreover, a faculty member who is teaching one of these courses for the first time will need to complete the relevant self-paced training. Only faculty members who have successfully completed the relevant training can be assigned to teach a blended, distance learning, or online course.

Propose a New Blended, Distance Learning, or Online Course

  1. Contact the Office of Curricular Support at or (626) 857-2406 to initiate the process.
  2. ITT will work with the faculty subject-matter expert (SME) to design, build, and deliver a flexible course that can be used in any modality: online, blended, or distance. This approach ensures that all students receive a high-quality learning experience.

Change the Instruction Mode of an Existing Course

  1. Log into Courseleaf, select the existing course, and click the green Edit Course button.
  2. In the “Modality of the course” section, check the appropriate box(es).

Enroll in Required Certification Courses

  1. Faculty teaching blended, distance learning, and/or online courses are required to take the relevant self-paced training courses. Learn more about these certification courses.
  2. Faculty members who have completed comparable ITT training (e.g., Orientation to Online Teaching, Course Redesign Institute, Teaching with Technology Institute, etc.) could receive credit. Contact ITT at for more information.

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