Week 3 Readings and Resources

Site: SCoPE - BCcampus Learning + Teaching
Group: Facilitating Learning Online - FEB2015-OER
Book: Week 3 Readings and Resources
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Date: Sunday, 19 May 2024, 4:38 AM


Week 3 Reading and Resources (Choosing Your Tools)

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Tools

Is this really the question?  Perhaps.  But it is not the first question we ask.  Before deciding that one tool, or group of tools, is better than another, we need to ask, "Better for what?"

Synchronous: existing or occurring at the same time* (e.g., Skype, Collaborate, Google Hangouts, etc.)

Asynchronous: not occurring at the same time* (e.g., Moodle`s discussion forums, blog posts and comments, online bulletin boards, etc.)

* Definitions from The Free Dictionary

While a skilled instructor can generally adapt to whatever tools are available, the readings and video listed for this week include examples of activities that seem to work better in one environment or another.

Johns Hopkins University School of Education,Center for Technology in Education ©2010 suggests that "Asynchronous learning can be effectively used for in-depth discussions that take place over time, role playing, application-based case study scenarios, one-to-one interactions among students, and activities that require more independent thinking time." And, "Synchronous learning can be effectively used for showcasing web or computer applications, explaining difficult concepts, delivering lectures via PowerPoint, structured group brainstorming, hosting guest speakers, new topic introductions, community building, and question and answer." 

Often students have a preference for one environment or the other, depending on their individual learning preferences.  Students who are vocal, think on their feet and are confident - may prefer a synchronous learning environment while more reflective learners may prefer asynchronous learning activities.

As you work through this week's activities, take note of your own preferences.  Where do you think you are a more effective learner?  Which tools support you in which kinds of learning activities? 

Read and View

Choose two:

Choose two:

How does one select the proper tool for the job?

One experienced educator relates the following story:

As I began teaching online I was enthusiastic about the possibilities and saw the whole thing as an exciting exploration. I eagerly began moving the learning activities that I had use in face-to-face courses and workshops to my online environment. (Back in the 1990's I was using a free version of Blackboard.)

Frequently I found myself saying something like, "Darn that Post-it Note activity is a really good one but I don't have Post-it Notes online." (This was long before such applications existed.  No http://taskless.appspot.com/, http://www.stormboard.com, etc.)  Then, I stopped and asked myself, "Okay, why do I do that activity?  What is the point? What am I trying to accomplish?"  In other words, what is the desired learning outcome?

Once I articulated the purpose I was trying to achieve I was able to think about other ways to achieve the same result using a tool in my, albeit small, online arsenal. I was no longer stuck with a physical tool as the defining point of the activity. Rather, focusing on the learning outcome got the creative juices flowing again.

Think about a learning activity that you use in face-to-face sessions. Can you recreate it online? Be sure to articulate the purpose for the activity. Do you need a new tool? Check out the resources in this Read and View page of this book.

Public Apps and Privacy

So, you found the perfect application and now you want to build it into your course - yay!

Oops - in order to use it students have to create an account.  Does the application sit on a Canadian server?  If not, do you need students to give informed consent or might you have to offer an alternative assignment or learning activity to those who object to creating an account on a server that sits outside of Canada?

So many people of all ages and walks of life seem perfectly happy to create Facebook or Twitter accounts or use other social networking and collaborative tools - do we really need to worry about this?

How about public tools that do not require an account?  For instance, they contribute their ideas to a Google Doc that someone with an account has created and made public. Can a student object to or refuse to participate because their work is public?

British Columbia has some of the strictest FOIPOP rules in Canada.  Do you know what they are?  Does your institution have additional policies that restrict or encourage use of third party tools?

Lots to work out over the next few years!