It’s the norm many college & university students will face when they begin classes in the fall: most will be online. As higher-ed institutions across North America announce plans to continue their online learning mandate instituted during the COVID-19 lockdowns, professors are scrambling once again to create courses built for the online world that keeps students engaged & maximizes their learning potential (Read: Report – 32% of students won’t enroll in courses this fall because of online learning)
Synchronous learning has historically been the focus for the majority of universities and colleges around the world: in-person, learn in real-time type of education. COVID changed that. Classes were suddenly thrusted online, and due to a lack of adequate technology, many professors and schools sought new ways of teaching that could benefit their students. Asynchronous learning, long a staple for previously instituted online-schools, allows students to learn at their own pace without the need for in-person instruction.
The gap between the two
A gap arises when the current value-proposition of universities and colleges is centered around real-time learning with world-class educators. Students pay to listen and ‘absorb’ knowledge from experts in their field. But can that mandate exist with asynchronous online learning?
What students need from online learning
While students certainly miss face-to-face interactions with their educators, students cited that what they need the most from current online systems is a better mechanism to receive feedback on their current work. Think about it; pre-COVID, students were able to ask questions during lectures, speak to a professor after class, interact with their peers about course work simply by turning to the student next to them. Online learning has removed that. Now students are forced to send emails, log into LMS-portals to speak with professors; gone is the simplicity of feedback and inquiry.
Blending synchronous with asynchronous learning
For professors currently debating which two schools of thought are best for their students come fall, it’s not that one is better than the other, instead the solution must be a hybrid of the two. Students are choosing to come to class to listen to leading educators discuss their insights, what they need is a better way to interact and feel engaged with the course material during & after each lecture. This fall, focus more on student engagement & helping students learn better, rather than focusing on how to deliver your course-content.