Sync or A+Sync?
As the number of students of online learning increases, the quality of interactions involved in the learning experience becomes an important issue. A major concern of online students is that they often feel isolated and disconnected from their instructor and fellow students (Park and Bonk, 2007, Winter). Research indicates that social interaction is fundamental to cognitive growth and further stresses that exchanges between teachers and student and between students and their peers are among the most important social interactions in educational settings. Additionally, feelings of isolation can lead to lack of self-efficacy and result in poor performance (Bruning et al, 2004).
Asynchronous instruction was the mode for many years in online classes with communication done via postings at independent times. To create more authentic social interactions, synchronous interactions such as conference calls and online class sessions via Adobe Connect Pro™ that include webcam sharing, have been added to asynchronous classes by some online instructors. I use the term A+Sync for this type of training delivery. If A+Sync training methodology successfully diffuses student feelings of isolation, maintains self-efficacy and leads to greater overall satisfaction with online classes than asynchronous learning alone, then A+Sync may quickly become the new norm.
I feel that most students prefer A+Sync online courses that create a more effective learning environment over asynchronous only courses. Further, as universities compete for online students they should make an effort to encourage instructors to provide the highest level of online synchronous training that includes asynchronous elements A+Sync by supporting them with technical assistance and resources.
To learn more, check out these Virtual Learning Resources:
Bonk, C. J. (2009). The World is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Bruning, R.H., Schraw, G.J., Norby, M., Ronning, R.R., (2004).Cognitive Psychology and Instruction – 4th Edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education.
Capella University. (2010, February 27). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 03:54, March 7, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Capella_University&oldid=346596213
Dattalo, P. (2010) Strategies to Approximate Random Sampling and Assignment: 20-21. http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/oso/public/content/socialwork/9780195378351/acprof-9780195378351-chapter-3.html (accessed March 3, 2010).
Park, Y. J., & Bonk, C. J. (2007). Is Online life a Breeze?: A case study for promoting synchronous learning in a blended graduate course. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT), 3(3), 307-323. http://jolt.merlot.org/vol3no3/park.pdf (accessed February 21, 2010).