Keeping the Synchronous in Asynchronous

Posted on May 29, 2012


A common complaint among online learners is “Where is the teacher?” Even with online discussions and email, the instructor can still be an unknown participant in the course. Adding online meetings to an online course is being seen more and more. An instructor will use . Blackboard 9 includes their revamped Illuminate. That’s a powerful feature to have within a LMS. For Moodle users, one would look for web conferencing tools like GoToMeeting, WebEx, Adobe Connect or iLinc.

What would an instructor do in a web conference? The conference could be a review and/or include new material. There may be a natural break in the class content where  a web conference effectively fits. Is there content that the instructor would like to emphasize beyond material accessed online?  A major project may need to be addressed before it reaches a critical timeline point. Regardless of the content,  a web conference shouldn’t be just a one-way presentation. It should have interaction and collaboration.

If a course includes a web conference, is it required that the students attend? Often times, yes. Otherwise, attendance might be low. You may want to force those lone wolfs to join and interact with other students. Remember, online education shouldn’t be just for those who learn well on their own. What about absences? For those who miss the web conference, an instructor can have a make-up and/or an assignment to replace attendance. The instructor will have to become familiar with the web conference interface. While it is another tool to learn, it wouldn’t be any more complicated than the LMS you already use.