Concept and definition

We define OOL as a set of specific characteristics that are typical of open distance learning (Tait, 2000; Thorpe, 2002; Cole, Shelley, & Swartz, 2014): open and flexible learning online; ensuring accessibility to open / distance learning courses; collaboration carried out by learners in online learning activities as integral for both, learner support and course content; developing new open knowledge and open learning practices as a result; exploiting and exploring learning groups themselves as resources for study and personal development, as well as sharing learning outcomes among learners, with the teachers and with the society at large. See more on this at

Online Learning

Online learning is characterized by the following features (Tait, 2000; Thorpe, 2002; Simson, 2013; Cole, Shelley, and Swartz, 2014; Volungevičienė, Teresevičienė, Ehlers, 2020): learning in a digital learning environment (online), ensuring full access to learning materials, communication and collaboration among learners and with the teacher, when curriculum offered for teaching and learning includes learning material as content, learning activities, interraction, social, cognitive and emotional presence and assessment of learning outcomes. During such learning, the teacher’s main role is to provide assistance and guidance, while students implement learning activities in the digital learning environment, create new knowledge and learning experiences, develop their personalities, and pursue learning outcomes through the use and exploration of learning resources and peer experiences, learning individually and/or in groups, sharing learning outcomes with each other, with the faculty, and with the entire community.

Online learning can happen in a completely online learning or in a blended online learning mode.

In online learning, all contact hours (e.g., lectures, seminars, interaction through communication and collaboration) take place in digital learning environment either in real-time (synchronous) or in an asynchronous way. Assessment of the learning outcomes is carried out either remotely or in the classroom.

In blended online learning, contact hours (e.g., lectures, seminars, and communication and collaboration) take place by combining physical and digital spaces, when the learning/teaching process for all the students of the same student group is organized in the same location, either physical or digital, and under the same conditions and level of intensity.

However, when students of the same group are learning, communicating and collaborating in different spaces at the same time (some students are in the physical environment, while others in a digital setting), this method is described as hybrid teaching and learning.

The method when students of the same student group are in a physical environment (e.g., classroom), and are learning, communicating and collaborating in physical space using technologies (as well as digital learning environment resources) is called technology-enhanced learning.