Business Case: How Instructors Can Teach More Effectively Online
With the recent rise of online instruction due to COVID, new teaching methods have been used when adapting to the online environment. The hope of this article is to help remote instructors to reflect upon their current online teaching methods and identify areas for growth.
Two Online Teaching Methods
When teaching online, there are two primary ways of instruction–synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous teaching involves teaching students in real time whereas asynchronous teaching does not. An example of asynchronous teaching is a recorded lesson for students to learn from on their own time. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages that need to be considered to optimally teach online students and we’ll examine the strengths and weaknesses for each method below.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Synchronous Teaching
Synchronous teaching’s strengths are greater engagement and greater communal relationship building. The main disadvantage of synchronous when compared to asynchronous instruction is gaining a deeper understanding since asynchronous methods encourage more student directed learning.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Asynchronous Teaching
Asynchronous has the advantage over synchronous in the areas of pursuing greater understanding and participation, flexibility of learning, and self-directed learning, but the downside of asynchronous teaching is the lack of community and interactivity in class.
Considerations for Synchronous Teaching
What this means for synchronous teachers who want to improve their teaching methods, is that they can intentionally consider if they are taking advantage of the synchronous strengths. For example, are instructors taking advantage of interactivity through asking for feedback and challenging student thoughts to further critical thinking? Or are teachers dominating the conversation and not allowing enough time (15 – 20 seconds) for students to think of questions? Besides reflecting upon those questions, some other suggestions to incorporate the benefit of engagement and communal relationship building is by encouraging icebreakers or encouraging student discussion, whether through debates or classroom sharing.
Considerations for Asynchronous Teaching
For asynchronous teachers who want to improve their instruction, instructors can reflect if they are providing enough external resources for students to support their self-directed learning whether through creating a schedule for due dates to allow students to better work at their own pace, linking to other learning resources, or providing a reasonable response time to student questions. To deepen participation, understanding, and to minimize the lack of community, one potential solution is a discussion class forum to allow a low pressure environment for everyone’s thoughts to be heard and responded to as well as be challenged critically.
Growth Moving Forward
There are many other possibilities in which instructors can make the most of an online teaching method’s strengths and also minimize the weaknesses, but ultimately the effectiveness will rely on the instructors own desire and creativity to greaten their student’s learning experience.