Synchronous and Asynchronous Online Teaching: Strategies for Engaging Students and Developing a Sense of CommunitySti 2014 talk_final
Synchronous and Asynchronous Online
Teaching: Strategies for Engaging Students
and Developing a Sense of Community
Lisa C. Yamagata-Lynch
Educational Psychology and Counseling Department
Core Teaching Beliefs
§ Good teaching is good teaching!
§ Becoming a good teacher involves
practice, purposeful reflections asking
hard questions, and implementation of
§ Provide participants with meaningful
learning activities to discover new
knowledge and experiences
What I know about Online Teaching
§ Trial and error
§ Designing and developing online
§ Teaching IT532 Online Learning
§ Reading and engaging in research
about online learning environments
§ Conrad, R.-M., & Donaldson, J. A. (2012).
Continuing to Engage the Online Learner:
Activities and Resources for Creative
Instruction. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
§ Lehman, R. M., & Conceição, S. C. O. (2010).
Creating a Sense of Presence in Online
Teaching: How to “Be There” for Distance
Learners. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
§ Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building
Online Learning Communities: Effective
Strategies for the Virtual Classroom (2nd ed.).
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Analyze your Strengths and Weaknesses
§ Identify teaching strengths/what you
like to do and think about how you can
translate them into online teaching
§ Identify teaching weaknesses/what
you don’t like to do and think about
how you can enhance those teaching
Prepare syllabus with detailed schedule
Participants need a clear sense of where the course is heading, and you will need it
too so that you do not feel like you are constantly at the edge of a cliff.
Prepare your Blackboard Site with 3 weeks of Material
Participants need to be able to plan their life to optimize their participation in an
online course, and 3 weeks of material help them with planning. It will help you too,
when you are not 3 weeks ahead you will encounter nasty surprises.
At least a month before the course launch, send introductory
letter to participants
Many participants are anxious about being in an online course, you might be too,
the earlier you start your communication with participants it helps to keep all
involved less anxious.
First Week of Class sets the
Tone for the Rest of the
Spell out what you want to accomplish
Model teaching and learning experiences
Participants need to gain confidence on the first day of class that you know what you
are doing, they can contact you with questions, they will be able to navigate your
materials without feeling lost in a black hole of information.
Demonstrate that you know the content
Participants appreciate mini-lectures that demonstrate you know the content, you can
help them understand the content, and that there are clearly concepts they need to learn
about the content in the course that are related to course objectives and their own goals.
Introductions cannot be redundant
Participants appreciate introductions to get to know each other, feel that they are
not alone “out there,” and to feel comfortable exchanging ideas with one another.
Provide, Review, Revise, and Establish Ground Rules
Participants appreciate online course ground rules to clarify communication
expectations. It will help students be more engaged.
Your role in Asynchronous Discussion
§ Choose a manageable topic to discuss,
a meaningful discussion needs clear
boundaries, scope, and focus
§ Demonstrate that you are present
§ Provide an Kickoff, Middle Week, and
Wrap Up Announcement
Your role in Asynchronous Discussion—
§ Raise questions to help participants
engage in meaningful discussion
§ Synthesize participant discussion
§ Can be good source of formative
feedback for your future preparations
Expectations need to be clear
Activities can bring experiences out of the class into the class
Participants value explicit instructions for asynchronous activities including the
task, due date, and peer grouping. You need to engage in the discussions to show
that you are present.
Assign Peer Rotations for Smooth Discussion Flow
Participant discussion tend to flow when it is clear whose initial post they should be
responding to, they gain a sense of accountability, and if there are participants who
do not engage in the activity peers can report to you.
Your role in Synchronous Discussion
§ Remember to hit record or set auto
§ Pace the session, keep participants in
general on time
§ You are in charge of who has the
microphone and video on and off
§ Encourage all participants to engage in
conversation this may mean you ask
direct questions to specific participants
§ Remember to end recording
Start class on time, communicate that participants are in class
space, use USB headphones/microphone, and use video
Participants feel more connected to the class being able to see the instructor
through the video stream, and they also need visuals to direct their attention.
Start the class with the Agenda
Participants like to to know where the session is heading. It also gives opportunity
Always take time for Logistical Check In
Participants do not have the opportunity to communicate to you with their facial
expression, whispering to one another, and general body expression to let you know
they have a question. Create a free for all question time slot.
Summarize asynchronous discussions, highlight interesting
discussions that took place, ask for participant input
Participants need to see that you read their work, you saw that they were making
connections between activities and course content, and that you can demonstrate
new ways for participants to make connections between discussions and content
During transitions from one activity to another, provide obvious
cues for students to ask questions and welcome comments
Engage participants in active group work during synchronous
Participants can only pay attention to so much lecturing, in order to make their
synchronous time with the course meaningful you need to provide experiences that
cannot be achieved asynchronously.
Finish with individual catch up time with you, individual work
time, or team meeting time
Participants appreciate that their online instructor and their peers are available for
course related meetings.
Summary Participant Comment
—Student Anonymous Evaluation Comment—
The assignments both synchronous activities and
asynchronous assignments were very helpful in
developing my skills. I loved the unlimited
interaction I had with my peers and instructor
through the discussion board and synchronous
activities. I especially loved how we rotated each
week, I got to interact with all my peers at one time
or another throughout the course. Although this is
an online course, I had more interaction with my
peers than I have had in some face-to-face courses. I
also found the both visual and audio components of
the course contributed to my learning. It was much
easier to pay attention to class time when I could
both see and hear my instructor and peers.
For more information on course development experience
Yamagata-Lynch, L. C. (2014). Blending online asynchronous and synchronous
learning. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning,
15(2). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1778
For an example of a Synchronous Session
A LiveOnline session with a breakout room activity and discussion
What do you think you might do?
§ Work on your own and review the
suggestions provided in this
presentation, pick 2 that you think you
can incorporate into your online/
flipped/blended course and plan how
you would customize them
§ Find a partner and share your plan
§ Be prepared to share with the entire