SYNCHRONOUS AND ASYCHRONOUS TEACHING IN AN ONLINE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT

SYNCHRONOUS TEACHING 

This is the delivery of online content to students live or in real time, mirroring the physical classroom experience.  Lectures and class discussions take place at established meeting times. Students and their teachers meet through live video conferencing, or teleconferencing, or live chatting or live-streaming lectures. Students participate in real time discussions and work through course concepts together also in real time.  This is especially useful when the course material is complex and requires immediate feedback or clarification to keep students on track.

Teachers should keep content delivery to between 10 to 15 minute blocks of class time followed by more interactive components such as: a) discussions, b) class polls, and c) giving students time to reflect on their learning through ‘minute papers’ for student reflections on the learning going on at that particular moment

In the spirit of getting students engaged in active learning, it is better to “flip” the classroom by:

  1. a) assigning interactive textbook readings for your students prior to class meeting time.
  2. b) facilitating a discussion during the online class meeting based on student responses to the pre-class textbook assignments.

 

Teachers should give frequent feedback to their students for their support and direction to re-focus their studies. Give regular low-stakes assessments or quizzes to create a consistent rhythm for students to keep them alert and involved.  This provides the teachers with a steady stream of insights into the progress or struggles of their students.

Teachers should create Peer connections by using fun activities, polling questions, and icebreakers to strengthen a community of sharing and collaborating in the class.

Teachers should use multimedia content like photos, videos, and real-world examples to reinforce the course concepts and add a variety to their course presentations.

Teachers should let their students know when they are available to meet with them in a regular virtual office hour setting and in an online discussion forum group.

TOOLS FOR SYCHRONOUS TEACHING IN REAL TIME

  1. Strong internet connection
  2. Decent microphone to ensure students can hear you clearly
  3. Attendance software, to check which students are showing up to class. A timer to ensure you are keeping track of time
  4. Class agenda, or a sense of how you are going to divide the lecture, one 10-minute block at a time, main points to be covered and analogies, videos or case studies to support your course content

 

ASYCHRONOUS TEACHING 

This is the delivery of course content to students that has been recorded or based on students doing it in a self-paced manner on their own schedule. Students learn from self-guided lesson modules, streaming video content, virtual libraries, posted lecture notes and exchanges across discussion boards or social media platforms.

Students can access the materials, readings, assignments, quizzes, and lecture recordings in a single place of the Moodle Cloud Platform, thus allowing them to explore topics in-depth and at their own pace.

It is important to communicate—or over-communicate with your students online. This starts with

  1. Orienting students to important tools, as well as providing information on how to find and navigate through learning materials.
  2. Taking time to set expectations, provide clear instructions for assignments and respond to student emails and discussion threads.

This delivery should be supported by discussion forums and one-to-one communications through email.

Students should be required to complete online assignments in Moodle before any live remote classes. The well-structured assessments should start with an outline of the intended learning objectives, complemented by embedded videos reviewing the course material. Assessment and discussion questions should follow, which should focus on identifying the content areas that require more clarification. Student feedback from these assignments should be used to understand how well the students are comprehending the material learned to date, as well as the content they have been asked to tackle asynchronously.

Active Learning should be brought into the online class by using interactive digital content. Digital Textbooks should be incorporated in the course. Unlike traditional print materials, Digital Textbooks typically include multimedia elements such as audio, photo and video components, as well as quizzes and questions embedded directly into readings and assignments. Instructors should make full use of these options to ensure that students are well prepared, giving instructors the flexibility to  focus synchronous elements of the course on helping learners work with and apply the latest concepts.

HOW TO DRIVE STUDENT ENGAGEMENT ASYCHRONOUSLY

 

BEFORE ONLINE CLASS

Short Quiz:  Have students complete a short quiz on concepts discussed during the previous lecture. Regular, low-stakes assessments improve knowledge retention while giving instructors a mechanism to gauge how well students are grasping key concepts. If necessary, review the results before diving into the next topic, so that instructors can spend more time on concepts that posed the greatest challenge for students.

DURING ONLINE CLASS

Discussion Threads:    Have students exchange drafts of their work and then come up with questions and comments for each other. Be clear about what the goals of the exercise are. For example, do you want to test a student’s understanding of a topic? Or do you want to test how well students can apply something they learned to a real-life situation? You can also use discussion threads to explore more sensitive or polarizing topics by having students respond anonymously to the questions.

AFTER ONLINE CLASS

Interactive Readings    With Digital Textbooks and course materials, you can incorporate active learning principles into simple reading assignments. This includes breaking up text with video and other multimedia elements and embedding questions to test for comprehension before students move onto subsequent sections. Moodle can automatically tabulate these results allowing you to shape your next lecture to address student needs.

KEEPING STUDENTS MOTIVATED OUTSIDE OF THE VIRTUAL CLASSROOM

Organize Your Course: Strategic course design, including how you choose to display your content, is the first step in achieving your course’s objectives. Housing course materials in a well-organized central repository on Moodle will avoid unnecessary frustration and help you and your students easily locate, review and submit items. Splitting up your content by format—lecture slides, assignment briefs and weekly readings—ensures students can find the information they need while keeping them accountable for completing homework and assignments.

Flexible Assessments: There are a number of options instructors can use to test student mastery in an asynchronous online learning environment. Open-book exams, group projects and culminating summative assignments offer great flexibility for instructors and students. The ability to include digital interactive materials like audio, photo and video materials also allows more freedom and creativity than ever before. Providing flexible options for students to respond, can motivate students while giving them more room to exercise creative problem-solving skills.

CREATING AN ONLINE LEARNING COMMUNITY

Creating an online learning community requires a different approach than in a traditional classroom.  Video lectures are not enough to keep students interested and engaged. Forging a community of online learners means making the digital classroom an inviting place for students. It means using technology to help students who were previously reluctant to raise their hands in a face-to-face class participate in an online class.  It means fostering peer-to-peer (and peer-to-instructor) connections to make the course material meaningful.

To create a sense of community, get to know your students’ needs by conducting regular online surveys or polls and adjusting the curriculum to make it more collaborative. Also, create a central hub for students. Students will develop a sense of community when they can align with one another on assignments and discussions in a central online hub.

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