Table of Contents
- What is an asynchronous class?
- When does asynchronous class learning make sense (rather than synchronous learning)?
- What are the benefits of asynchronous classes?
- What are the risks of asynchronous classes?
- What are English4Work’s features for asynchronous classes?
What is an asynchronous class?
You should know that both synchronous and asynchronous classes can be conducted online. Here’s the difference between the two:
Synchronous classes happen according to a schedule, and are centered around a teacher. In other words, students virtually attend a class session similar to what offline lessons in a classroom look like. It’s time specific, meaning all students and the teacher meet at the same time.
Asynchronous classes on the other hand allow all involved parties to work when it suits them best. Lectures may be recorded and can be watched and rewatched at any given moment. Students work on assignments and do exercises independently. There are no specific schedules or time slots where the entire class meets to attend a lesson. This type of learning becomes particularly important for adult learners, who already have busy schedules.
When does asynchronous class learning make sense (rather than synchronous learning)?
Depending on your teaching style and your students’ study goals, different manners of instruction will be more effective. Think carefully what type of class is best suited to deliver your course curriculum and support your students’ learning experience.
As mentioned, if your students have full-time occupations that make it difficult to commit to a fixed study schedule, you should accommodate their time tables by offering asynchronous classes. After all, asynchronous class learning may be the only way these students are able to participate in your class at all. Synchronous classes are sometimes just not an option for working students.
Timing is however not the only reason why an asynchronous class approach may be your best bet.
Here’s a few more:
1. When lessons are assignment heavy, rather than discussion heavy
Assignments are tasks allocated to students for individual or sometimes group work. They do not require the participation of all class members, and are completed independently from the teacher. You may set a higher number of assignments if your classes are more advanced, and your students have pre-existing knowledge of the subject.
For instance, if you teach English on an intermediate or higher level, you may ask your students to write more essays, prepare oral presentations, or complete another type of assignment that does not require as much direct teacher involvement. Now, if your students are busy working independently from you, there’s no reason why you need to meet. You can still ask them to keep track of their time – without committing to a specific time of the day.
2. When lessons require a lot of individual work, rather than group work
Assignments are not the only activities that students need to complete by themselves. Being able to work independently is an important skill to have, and it is applicable to many facets of life, be it at work, in school, at home…
If you teach a language – or any subject that involves a bit of memorizing for that matter – you may traditionally have set tasks such as learning vocabulary as homework. Even group projects are meant to be worked on without your active participation, and students can find independently choose a time slot to meet and do the project. This too is would traditionally be expected as homework.
But let’s be real: When you have more homework-suitable tasks than in-person-schooling-suitable tasks – you should save yourself the trouble and switch to asynchronous schooling. Your students will thank you for it too.
HOWEVER: This is not to say that you just set a curriculum and let your students ~do their thing~ without any support. You are their teacher, and regardless of whether your classes are synchronous or asynchronous, be available to your students and support them as best as you can.
3. When the class members are in different time zones
We live in the 21st century, and our world is globalized. Online learning is not a far-fetched concept, and geographical location is not a critical factor for communication anymore. The good thing about that is that it enables students and teachers to connect with each other anywhere in the world, and form class communities they otherwise would never be able to form.
The bad thing is unfortunately, that it may be difficult for students and teachers to connect synchronously due to living in different time zones. If you have a student in England and you live China, starting class at 8 am will simply not work. Additionally, the more time zones are involved, the more difficult it will be to coordinate synchronous lessons. Asynchronous classes will save you a lot of trouble in this case.
What are the benefits of asynchronous classes?
The list of benefits is long when it comes to asynchronous classes.
With asynchronous class learning, students are able to learn whenever, wherever. Early birds can get their study time in when they’re most productive, and so can night owls. Students who work during the day can do their studying in the evening. And the flexibility goes both ways. Teachers can prepare, record, and review lessons whenever works for them. No need to block a certain time slot during the day.
- It allows for different learning styles:
Everybody has their own learning methods. Some methods work better for some students but not for others. An asynchronous class will enable every student to work in a manner that suits them. They may choose to tackle given tasks in a different order, and approach exercises with unique tactics.
- Students are able to study at their own pace:
Recent research has shown that allowing your students to study more individually can have positive effects on their ability to retain learned material. By giving them access to self-study content in your classroom online, they will be able to work by themselves when they are in a good head space.
- Lessons can be redone if students require so:
How many times have you sat in class and wished you could rewind what your teacher just explained? Although experts are not in consensus about exact numbers, they all agree that a message has to be heard multiple times in order for it to be remembered. Redoing lessons will help burn relevant content into your students’ memory.
- It encourages independent learning:
Students need to learn how to manage their time appropriately and in a self-disciplined manner, as they’re in charge of when to complete their lessons themselves. This is especially important in tertiary education, yet, the earlier students master independent learning, the easier they will find it later on, and the more successful they will be.
- It teaches both hard and soft skills:
Asynchronous classes not only convey information about a subject, but also many other important life skills. Working with online tools, students will gain additional ICT (Information & Communications Technology) skills. They will also learn how to navigate social encounters in entirely new ways, and much more.
- It saves teachers’ time:
Teachers have little time as it is. And yet, some of it still gets wasted in class. One big factor here is class disruption. Students act out, or the class gets side-tracked, and next thing you know, you’re talking about your last holiday instead of what you’re meant to be focusing on. If classes are held asynchronously, they cannot be disrupted. There is a time and space for chit-chat and socializing, and holding asynchronous classes allows you to create and control this time and space a lot easier. Make sure you don’t forget to dedicate some class for “fun time” though – after all, school should be fun, no matter how old your students!
What are the risks of asynchronous classes?
Despite the overwhelming list of benefits, you should still consider the downsides of asynchronous class teaching. Doing so means being prepared. It allows you to take counter-action to help students thrive as best as possible.
- Students may fear feeling disconnected or disengaged from their class
- Counter-action: Promote communication among students, encourage them to reach out to you and their classmates, and build a meaningful connection (especially in the beginning). Introduce yourself, take the time to get to know your students, and enable them to get to know each other.
- Students may struggle with the self-discipline that independent learning requires
- Counter-action: Teachers should still provide their students with guidance. For example, they can support their students’ studying by setting deadlines and arranging for regular meet-ups, to make sure the students don’t feel isolated. Scheduling occasional meetings will also help foster a sense of community in your class.
- Students and teachers cannot give instant feedback
- Counter-action: Ensure that you are available to your students, and that they know when and where they can reach you. Have virtual office hours and designated time slots where you invite students to discuss their progress.Make sure you also clearly communicate which channels students can use to reach out to you. Some teachers simply provide email addresses, others also happily communicate with their students via text.To solve this problem, the English4Work platform has implemented instant system grading of activities, so students may track how they’re doing at all times. We also provide a ‘classroom wall’. Similar to social media walls or discussion boards, all members of your class can use this space to liaise with each other. It also allows you to provide additional documentation, instruction, and more for your students.
What are English4Work’s features for asynchronous classes?
With the unified framework of our platform, our teachers have asynchronous class features right at their fingertips. All activities can be completed by your students in their own time – at any time of the day. There are also many additional features how to adjust your online classroom, to make sure it fits your needs.
The English4Work platform provides all of the keys you need for successful asynchronous classes. Automate your classrooms if needed, make use of the instant system grading and the automatic certification option, and engage with the classroom wall. Try our learning examples and get started right away…
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