Asynchronous Learning and Trends
Asynchronous learning, or teaching and learning that occurs when the interaction between the instructor and students is not constrained by time and place, can cause feelings of isolation, resulting in disappointment and low retention rates in online classes. Faculty Focus examines new, proven collaborative learning techniques you can use in the online classroom to promote social interaction and have a positive influence on learning, motivation, and problem-solving.
April 8 - Encouraging Online Learner Participation
Sustained, high-quality student participation usually doesn’t happen on its own in the online learning environment. The instructor needs to model participation, create assignments that encourage it, and foster an environment that supports it. Here are some ways that I promote student participation in my online courses.
Consideration of convenience and flexibility typically leads instructors and instructional designers to favor asynchronous over synchronous learning. But given the potential benefits of synchronous communication, perhaps it’s time to rethink the 100 percent asynchronous course.
As an online instructor, I require my students to engage in weekly discussion forums. In the online college environment, discussion forums are designed to simulate a professor and his or her students engaged in a traditional classroom discussion. Students respond to a question and then reply to the responses of their classmates. The point is to keep the discussion moving, keep students engaged in the topic for the week, and facilitate learning.
October 24 - The Process Approach to Online and Blended Learning
Nate Cottle, professor of human environmental sciences at the University of Central Oklahoma, uses the process approach to learning as delineated by William Horton (2006) in his online and blended courses. Cottle spoke to Online Classroom about using this model. “Learning isn’t something that has to be confined to the classroom, and so as I teach blended classes, I think the more I can involve the students in learning and the more contexts I can involve them in, the more they’re going to learn,” he said. “The idea is to get them to slowly digest the information in different ways and to engage in different activities so that by the time the course comes to an end, they can apply the knowledge they have learned. That’s the ultimate goal: to get them to be in a state where they can apply the knowledge.”
The discussion board in Kathleen Lowney’s large blended (or hybrid) section of introduction to sociology at Valdosta State University wasn’t serving its intended purpose of engaging learners with the content and preparing them for face-to-face class sessions. She tried dividing the students into smaller discussion groups of 50 and then 20, and the results were the same: the weaker students waited until the last minute and essentially repeated what the better students had posted previously. When she replaced the public discussions with private journals, the quality of students’ posts improved, as did their grades.
Are you having trouble getting students to participate in online discussions? Consider using other types of prompts in addition to the typical open-ended question. Maria Ammar, assistant English professor at Frederick Community College, uses the following prompts in her English as a second language course and recommends them for other types of courses:
January 29 - Ideas for Active Online Learning
Heidi Beezley, instructional technologist at Georgia Perimeter College, strives to instill online courses with active learning, “providing opportunities for students to meaningfully talk and listen, write, read, and reflect on the content, ideas, issues, and concerns of an academic subject” (as defined by Meyers and Jones). To this she adds: “interact[ing] with realia, manipulatives, simulations,
December 13 - Asynchronous Art History: Teaching Online with Picasso
When people find out I am an online art history instructor, the most common reaction I get is “How does that work?” Most of the time, people assume that because art is such a visual outlet that somehow the online classroom is not the most appropriate place to teach art. I have to admit, when I was first approached about teaching art history online, I was skeptical as well. But as time and terms wear on, so too does my belief that teaching art asynchronously can be an effective, and dare I say it, better way to teach art history. Here’s why.
Sometimes students in the online environment just need that extra nudge to feel connected in order to truly excel. As instructors, we can facilitate community-building in an asynchronous environment by utilizing synchronous tools, such as Wimba, Skype, Elluminate, and others available to us via our learning management system or outside of the LMS.
An integral part of nearly all online classes is the threaded discussion—it is where students interact on a nearly daily basis, posting their thoughts and information on main discussion topics, your postings, and the postings of other students. While you have measured control over the content, length, and tone of student postings, you have full control over your own.