Waving Multiple Online Learning Flags

Waving Multiple Online Learning Flags

June 4, 2020 0 By JR

I just read the post, Waving the Asynchronous Flag, and I have the same disclaimer Alan includes at the start of his post:

I promise that I am writing this post that will contain nothing even close to an answer, solution, even coherence to all the scrambling effort to plan for the post-Emergency-Learning-Not-A-Pivot response.CogDog

Alan covers a lot of ground, from sitting in terrible synchronous sessions, to an observation of an impactful one (hi Cori!), and mentions the difficult task of planning a virtual conference. How many synchronous sessions is a tough decision, but I think it’s right to ask how asynchronous can play a role in that. Just yesterday I saw a template, in an LMS of all places, that was meant for use with a conference. Of course you could tell it was still meant for the traditional in person conference. A big section was meant for the keynote and for presentations. But, in the main page navigation what did you see next to the keynote and sessions links? A reception, and a networking tab. That’s a bit obvious, but then when you dug into the keynote area you also were presented with a discussion forum and survey. Again, nothing much to write home about, but it was interesting to see. Afterall, people Tweet chat conference hashtags all the time, and that’s technically asynchronous and people in the conference and outside the conference get a lot out of it.

Do people think of asynchronous as adrift, alone in space? There’s every reason to feel a sense of conversation in a place of being in different times there, exchange, that can be every bit as engaging as being there exactly together.

As I’m about to enter yet another series of synchronous meetings, let me tell you the format is wearing on me. If you’ve ever been in the meeting with me, you will maybe notice that I don’t pipe up right away when a question is asked. I’m so tired of hearing “any questions” come through my headphones, and as I collect the words to say I then hear “ok moving on”. It can happen in face-to-face meetings too, don’t get me wrong, but it has been so much worse these past few months. Then I apologize as I jump in and “take the group back” to the last point.

So tell me of your asynchronous gem efforts. Or let me know I am full of gas. Heck, this blog gets so few comments, I might even welcome a spammer.

In our unit, we have both televised course offerings and online offerings. The TV courses have a classroom studio (think 70s style) and students sit in the room with the instructor. But there are also distributed classrooms across the province that get the feed, and have a phone to call in questions etc. It’s pretty fabulous. The online courses seemed to more take the role of the old correspondence courses, that is, asynchronous with traditionally limited interaction. That’s when they were first moving over. Now we focus on different kinds of interactions and have a ore varied buffet of courses but still largely asynchronous. Before this whole remote learning thing, we were actually trying to find more ways to introduce synchronous elements into classes, building on the solid foundations of the asynchronous component.

As for asynchronous gem efforts, what comes to mind. A number of courses using H5P to provide immediate feedback and content interaction for students. An equal number of courses swapping out tired discussion forums with Padlet boards that become rich tapestries of comments, images, and activity. One board was part of a concept mapping exercise and students post their maps. The variety of tools and approaches used was really enlightening, from paper pencil to apps. We have some courses that use syndicated blogs, but the uptake has not been anywhere what I’d hoped. Last year I worked with an art prof to use a portfolio tool for a digital imaging course. Students posted different exercises and slowly built up a network of their works. Another course implemented peer review to work on urban agriculture projects. That course also used wiki to gather information about different fruits and veggies that could be grown in students’ communities.

I think there is lots of good asynchronous course designs, the biggest hurdle is getting away from the “well in the classroom” comparison we trap ourselves with.