Make the Right Choice!

 Wilfred Rubens  April 15, 2021 OEBglobal insights

Deciding Between Asynchronous Online Learning, Synchronous Online Learning and Face-to-Face Learning.

If you design education or a training programme, you have the choice between asynchronous online learning (at a distance or on location), synchronous online learning, face-to-face learning and workplace learning. While making a choice, you need to look at the possibilities and limitations of these different forms, especially from a pedagogical-didactical perspective.
In this post, I would like to discuss the possibilities and limitations of asynchronous online learning, synchronous online learning and face-to-face learning. I take the perspective of the teacher.

Asynchronous online learning

Asynchronous online learning is learning that is independent of time and place, although educational institutions sometimes deliberately have learners learn online at school (more on that in a moment).

Learners generally make use of a digital learning environment where they find learning materials such as videos, sound files and instructional texts. In addition, they can, for example, make assignments, take quizzes and practice tests. They learn individually, but are also able to interact and work together with others online. Discussion forums are often used for this purpose, as are functionalities for providing peer feedback. Adaptive technology can also be used, whereby learners receive instructions and assignments based on the results of previous assignments.

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Potential for asynchronous online learning

Limitations of asynchronous online learning

Asynchronous online learning on location

Synchronous online learning

Potential of synchronised online learning

Limitations of synchronous online learning

Face-to-face learning

Limitations of face-to-face learning

Questions to ask

Finally, the following questions, in combination with the above, can also help in making decisions when putting together a blend:

  • Does your target group find it difficult to come to your location often to learn?
  • Are you dealing with learners who are very different in terms of prior knowledge, ability level, learning questions, learning goals, etc?
  • Does your target group have a powerful internet connection?
  • Do you have enough time and resources to develop quality online content?
  • Can you make use of online content that has already been developed?
  • Is your target group able to regulate their own learning and avoid distractions? Are you able to support them in this?
  • Do you have powerful monitoring tools?
  • Do you have the time and skills to guide learners online?
  • Can you apply an active teaching method online?
  • Are you able to promote online involvement?
  • Can you, for example, use serious gaming to work with learners on social skills?
  • Do learners need to develop a great deal of psychomotor skills?

Connect with the author of this article, Wilfred Rubens (Consultant, Edublogger, Lecturer at the Open University in the Netherlands, member of OEB’s Advisory Board) and dive deeper into the topics discussed at OEB21.

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