This week in my Digital Citizenry course, we looked at an array of teaching and learning options, including synchronous and asynchronous online learning. After mulling over the advantages and disadvantages of both, I concluded that nothing replaces good teaching. Maximizing student learning requires a solid pedagogical foundation.
Rourke & Coleman (2010) look closely at a case study where the pedagogy led the technology. They outline how the online learning is scaffolded for the Postgraduate students in the study. The scaffolding includes providing clear learning objectives, allowing opportunities for students to construct their own knowledge, providing exemplars, opportunities for collaboration and using sound assessment practices. The researchers also speak of adapting learning activities to meet learning styles and preferences of the learners. “The authentic design of the learning task was generated to utilize students learning styles, prior knowledge and experiences.” (p. 269, Rourke & Coleman, 2010) Scaffolding the learning sets students up for success.
Does an asynchronous or synchronous environment promote good teaching strategies? Interestingly, a study by Murphy, Rodriguez-Manzanares & Barbour (2011) found that synchronous online teaching (SOT) approaches leaned towards direct instruction versus making use of the interactive features available. “…our findings support the argument that it is not the media but the pedagogy that determines the interaction.” Teachers using SOT feel pressured by time constraints. “So the focus of cyber synchronous learning is often on quantity rather than quality.” (Hrastinski, 2008, cited in Ge, 2012)
Ge (2012) concluded that the blended cyber approach can help students achieve better results. Opportunities to collaborate and exchange information in a synchronous environment complement time to reflect in an asynchronous environment. (Ge, 2012) “It has become more important than ever that educators who choose to embrace technology for learning do so with a clear educational rational and a solid pedagogical grounding.” (p.278, Rourke & Coleman, 2010) Simply put, this is the foundation of good teaching regardless of the learning environment.
Murphy, E., Rodríguez-Manzanares, M. A., & Barbour, M. (2011). Asynchronous and synchronous online teaching: perspectives of Canadian high school distance education teachers. British Journal Of Educational Technology, 42(4), 583-591
Rourke, A., & Coleman, K. (2010). E-learning in crisis: should not the pedagogy lead the technology? Journal Of Education Research, 4(3), 265-282.
Ge, Z.-G. (2012). Cyber asynchronous versus blended cyber approach in distance English learning. Journal Of Educational Technology & Society, 15(2), 286-297.