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.
International student and online course enrollments had noted increases for 2010 at U.S. tertiary institutions (Institute of International Education, 2010 & Sloan-C, 2010). These enrollment data remind us that U.S. campuses are continually becoming more culturally and internationally diverse in their student populations. However, this diversity may not always be apparent in the increasing numbers of students taking online courses as the instructor-student interaction is not face-to-face as in seated classes. The latter interaction allows for more awareness of students’ cultural differences and any immediate adjustment in verbal and non-verbal communication as the need arises.
During a recent seminar, presenters Kay Dennis of Park University and Jeffery Alejandro of East Carolina University, offered the following tips on using online discussions to maintain student motivation: Be explicit and optimistic about expectations for course participation. “I tell students upfront, — ‘I want you to sign in at last three times a week
February 10 - Pump up Your Online Discussions with VoiceThread
At its best, the discussion board can be the heart and soul of the online classroom. But it’s not always easy getting students to make the type of contributions you expect. The comments can be rather flat, not very insightful, and more often than not, it feels like some students just fill the minimum number of posts stipulated in your syllabus.
The discussion board is the heart and soul of online learning. As such, the life and livelihood of online teaching and learning flows through threaded, asynchronous conversations inspired by thought-provoking questions. To maximize the potential of online discussions, these conversations need to be relevant and inspiring dialogs that empower and enlighten online learning.
If you are thinking of adding streamed audio and/or video presentations to your blended or online course, here are some things to consider.
June 1 - How to Jumpstart Online Discussions
Online discussions are sometimes difficult to get going, and often the students (at least at first) seem to respond too superficially, punctuated by an occasional treatise by an overeager student. Here’s how I jumpstart discussions in my family relations online course.
Online educators have long known that asynchronous discussion is deeper than face-to-face discussion due to the increased thought time and the “democratization” of the classroom. But one major disadvantage of traditional online discussion is that it is separate from the lecture.
When teaching and designing courses, I find that it’s easy to slip into autopilot and use the same tools and strategies over and over. Autopilot can be comfortable and easy, but I know I don’t do my best work in that state. So I try to look at my courses and materials with fresh eyes as often as I can. Often, I’ll ask another faculty member or designer to look at what I’m designing with a critical eye, and I return the favor for their courses.
April 5 - Considerations for Your Wiki Projects
Wiki technologies are being used by many instructors and students as an effective tool for a variety of collaborative projects, such as composing group papers, creating a rich knowledge base, managing projects efficiently, and forming virtual communities. The benefits of using wiki tools include ease of use and collaboration, good instructor control, and anytime/anywhere accessibility.
As more and more courses go online, interaction and knowledge building among students rely primarily on asynchronous threaded discussions. For something that is so central to online learning, current research and literature have provided instructors with little support as to how they can facilitate and maintain high-quality conversations among students in these learning environments. This article responds to this need by offering three strategies instructors can use to ensure educationally valuable talk in their online classes.