Asynchronous vs. Synchronous Classrooms:
Isn’t this just the old debate about homework vs. classwork with a flashy new name? The differences between the two are the differences between working under the careful guidance of a teacher or working on your own at home. There are benefits to both and there are drawbacks to both.
In the Synchronous classroom, we have the benefit of actual, visual and auditory contact. I can see/hear what the instructor is saying as he/she is saying it. I can ask questions about the content as it is being given to me. I can interact with my classmates and give them feedback/advice/help/questions as we are being given content. However, sometimes there can be too much interaction. Lectures can be diverted. Students can get too comfortable talking to one another and not pay attention to the content. There are pit falls involved in human interaction, and we as teachers are often painfully aware of these.
In the Asynchronous classroom, we are held back by a lack of interaction in real time. There is a built in separation between teacher and student. Watching a video, listening to a podcast, reading an article, it’s not quite the same as actually sitting in a classroom getting a lesson presented to you. However, it will still get you the information. However, much of the interaction we crave can be accomplished in an asynchronous setting through use of modern digital technology. With Twitter, Etherpad, GoogleHangouts, and other such social media wonders, students can comment, question, add, detract, etc. from our lectures and lessons as effectively as if they were sitting in our classroom. Perhaps, more so, as they are more likely to stay on topic, participate intelligently and thoughtfully, and interact appropriately when their comments are there forever for all the world to see. We are able to respond to EVERY question because no longer does the ringing of the bell dictate the limits of our instruction. No limits are placed on when, where, or how we may respond to these questions. We are the masters of our instructional domains, and we are able to fill needs with a new efficacy.
I personally loved the article on “Synchronous Sessions Asynchronously…” and will be digging further through this blog. I thought it brought up brilliant points and gave AMAZING resources. Really, I’m geeking out a bit about how useful and well written this article was. It brought out a passion in me for this aspect of digital education.