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This blog is about being (or working as?) a learning technologist

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Synchronous or asynchronous - is that the question?

The TeaLaB session (Teaching and Learning at Brookes) on Friday 31 January was titled 'Synchronous technologies - the answer to poor online engagement?' Its focus was on Abi Ball's research about the use of synchronous and asynchronous technologies in distance learning programmes. Here's my short summary: It seems as if the research shows clearly that students want synchronous technologies to be used with great care - only certain (and not too many) topics are suitable for sessions using synchronous tools. While varying the format of delivery seems important, there needs to be time for students to investigate complex content, which is best done with well prepared and designed online material, which should include asynchronous discussion forums, which are best suited to a reflective process. Tutors are required to guide the work, especially by giving feedback on formative pieces of work. They are still considered as the ones "in the know", and their knowledge is what students like to benefit from, and online self-tests are perceived to help the learning.

I would not think this necessarily goes against the notion that learners construct knowledge for themselves, i.e. the constructivist approach. For me, it might indicate clearly that - while a lot of students are still guided by the 'platonic' perception of learning - this should be translated into the tutor providing students with opportunities to construct their own knowledge, i.e. engaging activities!

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