The Value of Synchronous Communication in Online Learning Environments

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The Value of Synchronous Communication in Online Learning Environments

  1. 1. SYNCH AND SWIM: The Value of Synchronous Communication Michael Coghlan November 14th, 2010
  2. 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. 3. COMMUNICATION AXIS Most classroom communications take place here New – have been enabled by technology (only happen online)
  4. 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. 5. Virtual Worlds: Second Life See Second Life in Education
  6. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 12. NEAR SYNCHRONOUS TOOLS
  13. 13. What’s this?
  14. 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. 15. TRACKING THE BACK CHANNEL http://www.slideshare.net/mchaelc/tracking-the-back-channel
  16. 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. 17. Cover It Live
  18. 18. Question  Why do you think it is important to include synchronous tools in online courses?
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