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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Engaging Faculty to Connect with Online Learners in Real Time | Transforming Higher Ed - EDUCAUSE Review

A faculty-led initiative at Indiana Wesleyan University/National & Global Campus focused on creating real-time engagements with students in asynchronous online courses.

Over the past year, a collaborative team of administrators and faculty from Indiana Wesleyan University's adult education programs, National & Global (IWU/N&G), developed and deployed an approach to teaching and learning for students of asynchronous online programs summarizes Tiffany Snyder, Assistant Director of Faculty Enrichment and Brad Garner is Director of Faculty Enrichment at Indiana Wesleyan University.

Photo: P-pongsiri / © 2020

Although this initiative—dubbed Synchronicity—is not revolutionary in the scheme of online teaching, it demonstrates the power of engaging faculty in the process of systemic change. The team's belief in the benefits of blended online learning—that is, the thoughtful integration of synchronous and asynchronous online modalities—was inspired by the professional literature,1 as well as student data from a pilot study at IWU/N&G. 

The Pilot Study: January to June 2020

In January 2020, sixteen IWU/N&G faculty began an interdisciplinary research effort to compare student outcomes between fully asynchronous versions of online courses and other versions that blend asynchronous and synchronous elements. Faculty participating in the pilot study implemented at least one synchronous learning activity in their online courses and made the activities optional for students. Examples of synchronous learning activities included welcome sessions, discussions, and virtual office hours.

Faculty participating in the pilot study recruited colleagues who taught the same or similar online courses without synchronous components...

The Final Word

As is the case with any instructional strategy, when faculty are presented with information about synchronous online sessions, some are die-hard proponents, others are fence-straddlers, and a few admit reluctance. Typically, those who are reluctant either have tried synchronous sessions and experienced disappointment in student attendance and engagement or have not tried synchronous sessions and do not feel equipped to facilitate learning in a live virtual format. The process of integrating synchronous activities in asynchronous classes may feel daunting, unfamiliar, and frustrating at times. Faculty have been encouraged to start slowly by focusing on a single class and one or two technologies. 

Read more... 

Source: EDUCAUSE Review