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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 is not 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 this independence.” “ The demands of a learning-centered context might at times force us to modify prescriptive participation in (synchronous events), even though we might have evidence that such participation will further 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 – Now being used by some as an alternative search tool to Google http://www.flickr.com/photos/29281982@N00/101951607/
  • 15. TRACKING THE BACK CHANNEL http://www.slideshare.net/mchaelc/tracking-the-back-channel
  • 16. 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
  • 17. Cover It Live
  • 18. Question  Why do you think it is important to include synchronous tools in online courses?

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