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The Value of Synchronous Communication in Online Learning Environments

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  • 1. SYNCH AND SWIM:
    The Value of Synchronous Communication
    Michael Coghlan
    November 14th, 2010
  • 2. What is synchronous/asynchronous communication?
    SYNCHRONOUS (real time) eg f2f conversation, telephone calls, chat rooms
    ASYNCHRONOUS – some delay between initial communication and the reply eg letters, email, forums
  • 3. COMMUNICATION AXIS
    Most classroom communications take place here
    New – have been enabled by technology (only happen online)
  • 4. Range of Synchronous Tools
    Instant messengers: Google Talk, Skype, Yahoo, MSN (text + voice)
    Peer to Peer/Collaborative Tools: eg Etherpad (documents), Mind Mapping, Whiteboards, etc
    Virtual Classrooms
    Proprietary: Elluminate, Adobe Connect, etc
    Free: Wiziq, DimDim, Vyew
  • 5. Virtual Worlds: Second Life
    See
    Second
    Life in
    Education
  • 6. Use of Synchronous Tools – Survey
    Why are synchronous tools important?
    Approx 50/50 split between pedagogical and social/affective reasons
    Pedagogy: immediacy of feedback (30%)
    (results at http://users.chariot.net.au/~michaelc/synch/surv_results.htm)
  • 7. Social/Affective Benefits
    Social, community, and personal engagement
    personal engagement/motivation (55%)
    community building (29%)
    improving the social experience (27%)
    (results at http://users.chariot.net.au/~michaelc/synch/surv_results.htm)
  • 8. Tension: Synch v Asynch
    Terry Anderson, Toward a Theory of Online Learning:
    “….the major motivation for enrollment in distance education isnot physical access, but rather, temporal freedom to move through a course of studies at a pace of the student’s choice.” Participation in (synchronous events) “almost inevitably places constraints on thisindependence.”
     “ Thedemands of a learning-centered context might at times force us tomodify prescriptive participation in (synchronous events),even though we might have evidence that such participation willfurther advance knowledge creation and attention.”
  • 9. Resolving the tension between asynchronous and synchronous approaches
    don’t make synch sessions compulsory; use synch for those who want it
    use tools that can record or archive the sessions for later retrieval
    don’t use synchronous for whole class instruction
    use for meetings, one-on-one, or in small groups
    offer informal (social) sessions in synch mode
    allow student use of synchronous space
    offer office hours sessions at set times
  • 10. Resolving the tension between asynchronous and synchronous approaches
    It’s not all or nothing – use both approaches:
    Synch for social, spontaneous, decision making
    Asynch for deliberation, reflection, considered opinion
  • 11. What kinds of synchronous activities can you use in classrooms?
    TEACHING
    ‘straight lecture’
    Guest lecturers
    Oral presentations
    Group work
    One on one (eg pronunciation)
    OTHER
    Office hours
    Social: student - student
  • 12. NEAR
    SYNCHRONOUS
    TOOLS
  • 13. What’s this?
  • 14. Twitter as a real time search tool?
    May 2008: “Twitter beats media in reporting China earthquake."
    • An almost real time search tool
    • 15. Now being used by some as an alternative search tool to Google
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/29281982@N00/101951607/
  • 16. TRACKING THE BACK CHANNEL
    http://www.slideshare.net/mchaelc/tracking-the-back-channel
  • 17. BACKCHANNEL TOOLS
    Direct or instant messaging in web conferencing tools (eg Centra, Elluminate)
    Live blogging tools like Cover It Live
    Live polling tools like Poll Everywhere
    Micro Messaging tools: Twitter, Yammer
  • 18. Cover It Live
  • 19. Question
    Why do you think it is important to include synchronous tools in online courses?