Online education has always been there but, since the outbreak of COVID-19, a sudden surge in its demand has been witnessed.
Most schools and universities have transitioned to online teaching overnight. Maybe, because they didn’t have many options to choose from, but when adopting online learning, educators must be well-aware of the teaching formats, their advantages and disadvantages as well.
We already know, online education has grown in popularity and accessibility, attracting students with its schedule-friendly format options, and its formats can be grouped broadly into two categories: synchronous and asynchronous.
So herein, we bring you a detailed piece that talks about the qualities of synchronous online teaching.
Let us have a look!
Synchronous learning, an online or distance education, happens in real-time schedules and assignments are completed at given deadlines. Their programs can also use a hybrid learning model, which includes a blend of both formats.
While asynchronous learning happens as per your schedule, during your course of study, the instructor or program have to provide materials for reading, lectures for viewing, assignments for completing, and exams for evaluation; you can access and satisfy these requirements on your own schedule, so long as you meet the expected deadlines. Some common methods of asynchronous online learning include self-guided lesson modules, pre-recorded video content, virtual libraries, lecture notes, and online discussion boards or social media platforms.
Qualities of Synchronous online teaching
Synchronous teaching provides a dynamic learning experience
A synchronous online format is actually a better method among all learning styles because it allows for a more dynamic exploration of topics, ideas, and concepts. There is a speed and immediacy to synchronous online learning; video conferencing makes it possible to ask peers and have questions answers sessions in mid-lesson. Not being in a lecture hall means you can do your own research on the side without disrupting class. If you thrive at a swift pace, surrounded by competing and complementary ideas, a synchronous learning format might be the most suitable pedagogical method to go for.
Synchronous teaching aids student assessment and learning
When planning to have a synchronous session, understand your students, especially in a skills-based course, as it is essential. Then, while in class, ask students many questions, ideally to engage them but mostly to discover their comprehension and thought process. The cliché saying, “There are no stupid questions,” is true because both the students and the teacher are learning through that Q&A session.
During a lesson, such contributions by students provide affirmation that the lesson is well received or guidance to step back and clarify is required. This information further dictates how you scaffold assignments. It also helps quieter students feel more comfortable speaking online because not all eyes are on them. Additionally, having students participate in class discussions helps them actively guide their own learning experiences. Therefore, teachers must hear their students’ questions, ideas, and concerns as they occur during a lesson.
Direct exchange of words lead to positive rapport
Engaging in conversation is one natural way to build relationships. The exchange of dialogues allow interpretations of nonverbal cues, such as tone and facial expressions, which contribute to a general sense of trust and perception of one another and enhance the openness to build connections.
Through conversations, individuals in an online class who are stranger get an opportunity to cultivate a relationship. It also allows individuals to display their interests, inquiries, and concerns. Students are no longer just limited to uploaded assignments; by the time they become faces that display confusion, voices that laugh and a major contributing factor to the foundation of learning. Basically, a synchronous classroom tells students that showing up matters – seeing their name or face enter the virtual classroom matters.
Rather than sending announcement emails, lesson documents, and direction sheets, one-way communicators, hold discussions or small chit-chat session before class officially begins or post-class for a better relationship with your students. This is possible; even in virtual classes, you can begin your class with a general, “How are you all doing,” and then ask students to share about their schedule or whatever they like. This often leads to students' pivotal conversations sharing their experiences during the quarantine and help to connect and learn from one another.
Synchronous teaching provides a structure that normalizes the experience
Being an organized, on-time, and structured person are attributes that most individuals struggle with. But, “Routine is the key to success.”One needs to have a structured life to attain success. And synchronous teaching is great at maintaining that. In an online or in-person class, the set schedules serve as a structure that holds us accountable. Students show up in person because it is expected and they know missing a class means missing vital information. And following a pattern that directs to what you should accomplish at certain times helps you thrive.
However, in asynchronous class, the same student body is asked to independently employ a tremendous amount of discipline by completely self-regulating asynchronous courses. Herein, students are not mandated to log in for a specific class session but only for self-paced learning and assignment deadlines. Losing track of time and interest, forgetting about their work and not submitting critical assignments is very easy.
Despite all there are differences between an online course and an in-person setting, they cannot be the same, nor can the COVID-19 online course be the same as traditional distant learning. However, amidst the “new normal”, online instructors need to contemplate what type of synchronous structure would benefit their style, curriculum, and students to provide a better learning experience.