Friday, March 19, 2010

Week 10: Interactive and Collaborative Learning

Week 10: March 15, 2010

The moderator this week was Mag. She provided the following definitions in order to make sure all were on the same page for discussions:
Synchronous (sync): same time/same place and same time/different place
Asynchronous (async): different time/same place and different time/different place

I personally like a blended use of both sync and asyn. Through my own personal online experiences as a student and as a teacher, I have used skype and adobe connect (aka Breeze).
The voice and video in adobe connect are sometimes not connected and there is sometimes a delay in the visuals on screen in which one is talking. I had trouble with this during a course I taught in the fall, 2009.

Skype is great for chatting with small groups or between several people. My daughter is getting ready to study in London for a month and we plan to use Skype to connect with her while she is abroad (we both have webcams for the visual too).

Leesa made this statement and I actually agree with her: She states that she is quite surprised that oncourse doesn't have something like illuminate or skype built into it. Would be a pretty neat feature! We need to talk with the IU IT department… it there are wikis and live chats, then there has to be an option to skype .

Pros and Cons of Sync:
PROs: quick, immediate, interactive, sense of community, responsive to student questions, visual for instructor and students, can archive and replay back, can invite others in.

CONs: time zone issues, bandwidth / conductivity may vary, other technical problems (microphones, webcams, overwhelming system, complex features)

Pros and Cons of Async:
PROs - delayed, more time to respond, more reflective with responses

CONs - feedback is slow or never comes at all, lacks visuals, lacks real-world or real classroom feel, might get deleted by mistake, too much to read and keep up with.

One of the articles that Mag summarized was: Sync Learning experiences: Distance & residential learners’ perspectives in blended grad course (2007):
Students are satisfied with their experiences in synchronous critique discussion and indicate that live communication is beneficial for them to exchange prompt feedback and suggestions. Regular meaningful interactions scheduled across the semester enhance social presence and a sense of connectivity among learners, playing an important role in their willingness and satisfaction. Instructors need to have solid knowledge and skill in various delivery mediums as well as an awareness of appropriate pedagogies, challenges and new roles for various types of sync and async environments.

I would be in favor of a blended sync and async use of technologies being thoughtful as to the appropriate use of the blend depending on the course. The advantages of synchronized connections certainly outweigh the cons. The sense of community and belonging to the group are very important for engagement and learning with distance education. Interactive technologies such as discussion forums, chats and adobe connect interactions provide effective collaborative learning for students. As a faculty, this is a challenge but in a good way. It keeps an online course fresh and current for students.

Interesting tidbit / link for the week: 7 things you should know about Ning. I had not heard of Ning before but now know it is an educational social networking site.

Interactive sites:
Adobe Connect Pro (formerly Breeze) – see our class url:
Yahoo! Groups:
Windows Live Groups:

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