A Comparison of Organizational Structure and Pedagogical Approach: Online versus Face-to-face

Donovan A. McFarlane, Frederick Taylor University


This paper examines online versus face-to-face organizational structure and pedagogy in terms of education and the teaching and learning process. The author distinguishes several important terms related to distance/online/e-learning, virtual learning and brick-and-mortar learning interactions and concepts such as asynchronous and synchronous interactions, etc, before deliberating on perceived differences in organizational structure and pedagogical approaches of virtual and brick-and-mortar schools by examining organizational structure, knowledge and pedagogical theories, ideas, and constructs. The roles of mission, vision, and other considerations that contribute to differences between virtual and brick-and-mortar schools are examined. The appropriateness of structure and pedagogy as related to variables such as class size, span of control, and several other factors is discussed. The benefits and drawbacks of both virtual and brick-and-mortar schools are assessed in terms of perceived effectiveness and relation to perceived organizational structural and pedagogical differences before the author presents an informed response to the major thesis of this paper based on pertinent literature and the foregone discussion. After recognizing prevailing practices with regard to organizational structure and pedagogy, and given the pertinent role of technology and several influencing factors such as leadership, and curriculum, among other factors in virtual and brick-and-mortar schools, several recommendations are presented for improving the teaching-learning process.


Organizational structure, Pedagogical approach, Virtual schools, Brick-and-Mortar, Distance learning, Online learning, Virtual learning, Synchronous, Asynchronous, Virtual learning environment (VLE), Managed learning environment (MLE), Curriculum mapping, Electronic communication, Autopoietic systems theory, Structural contingency theory, Configurational approach, Recursivity-based theory, Learning organization, E-learning

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