Increasingly, learners are choosing the far more geographically flexible root of online courses, rather than those taught at an education establishment. These e-courses provide those who would otherwise have been unable to partake in educational courses, due to locational limitations or family commitments, with the chance to learn new skills.
The flexibility provided with online learning means that more and more people can receive the education they need, in order to progress in their careers. Due to the accommodating element of such courses many of the benefits of traditional learning can be lost. It’s in these cases that synchronous learning can be beneficial.
E-learning usually comes under two categories; synchronous and asynchronous. The former gives students the chance to learn online whilst still getting the benefits of a classroom style education, by allowing participants to learn at the same time.
This communal learning can take the form of online chat, video conferencing, or instant messaging. During these sessions all learners and teachers can contribute and communicate simultaneously, mimicking a traditional classroom.
Much like lessons taught within a classroom, synchronous learning allows students to receive immediate feedback from teachers. The ability to instantly respond to the work of learners means that educators can quickly steer students back onto the correct path should they have failed to fully grasp the concepts being taught. This style of teaching will allow a far greater success rate, especially for those learners who have spent an extended amount of time out of education.
Simultaneous learning gives students the ability to communicate directly with each other, as well as teachers. Interacting together, students can collaborate on projects, as they would in regular classrooms. By putting their learnt knowledge to practical use, via communal activities, students have a far better chance of retaining the information they have learnt.
Real time activities will promote the sharing of ideas and concepts between students whilst giving them and idea of how their learnt skills relate to real-world tasks. The ability to help one another and reach out to teachers for guidance goes along way to improving the course participants combined motivation.
Synchronous learning can also benefit teachers. By allowing educators the ability to communicate directly with students, teachers are able to incorporate classroom techniques into online teaching. Asking questions and instigating discussions enables teachers to get a far better idea of how the course’s content is being absorbed. It will also help them to recognise when students are struggling, giving them the ability to offer help to those who may not usually ask for it.
E-courses can, at times, make learners feel very isolated. This feeling is especially prevalent when students are struggling with work or understanding course material.
Creating an environment that encourages students to communicate with staff will go a long way to promoting a sense of community on the course. Students that are able to put a face to teachers and other students will be far more likely to ask for help and in turn help others. All these factors contribute to the overall motivation of learners.
Lack of motivation and a sense of isolation are common reasons given by those who have failed to complete e-learning courses.
Made to Fit E-Learning
As you are undoubtedly aware, not every individual learns in the same way. There are three main types of learning.
Spatial, or visual, learners absorbed information that is written or visual. For learners such as these handbooks and presentations are the best learning tools.
Linguistic, or verbal, learners tend to retain information that’s spoken to them. This means that recorded lectures or online chatting will be of greatest benefit.
Kinaesthetic, or physical, learners can more accurately grasp concepts if they can interact with them in some way. Admittedly this can be difficult with online learning, although not impossible. Displays of tasks via video conferencing can be given, to then be completed by the students.
The problem with the asynchronous style of e-learning is that it tends to only suit one type of learner. Although visual and audio aids can be added to learning material, most of the courses content will be written.
The capability to videoconference or chat online, that synchronous learning gives, will allow teachers to present the curriculum in several different ways as they would in traditional teaching.
Online courses have become extremely popular in recent years and it’is likely that their popularity is only going to increase. As the volume of courses available develops, so too should the ways in which such courses are taught.
It is clear to see the many benefits of synchronous learning over asynchronous. The ability to accommodate more learning styles is undoubtedly the driving force behind the increasing number of e-learning courses adopting this style.
Many individuals choose to take an online course over one taught in the traditional classroom for many reasons; the smaller cost, family and time commitments, or location. All of which are the result of necessity rather than desire. As such, it is important that e-learning courses try to reflect those taught in the classroom as closely as possible.
It is difficult to mimic the feeling of a classroom’s community and personalised learning virtually, but it is clear that synchronous learning is the online teaching style that comes the closest. For those potential students who are nervous about learning alone, the offer of synchronous learning could be the difference between them advancing their education or not.