Online courses are traditionally defined as those in which 100% of the delivery takes place in the online environment through asynchronous activities, synchronous meetings, or a combination of both asynchronous and synchronous methods.
Online Models for Consideration
Choosing an online model could depend on the course topic, learning objectives, the level of the students, and a range of other variables. Below are three models to consider.
Synchronous-driven online courses are those in which the instructor and students meet regularly online in real-time meetings for lectures or other activities. The course may also be supplemented with other online activities or materials, but the majority of the student seat time is offered through synchronous meetings.
- Encourages social presence through live meetings.
- Meetings can also be recorded for students who may have to miss a session.
- Less flexible since the instructor and students need to meet together on a regular schedule. If students are working part- or full-time, or if they are attending the course from different time zones, the schedule may be challenging for some students.
- Adjust your teaching plans and schedule accordingly to allow for regular online meeting times and ensure that your syllabus clearly articulates the mandatory synchronous meetings for your students.
- Design a Canvas site structure that makes each week’s recordings and materials easy for students to find and view if they want to re-watch a lecture, or if they need to miss a week due to illness.
Asynchronous-driven online courses are those in which students are rarely if ever, required to meet in a synchronous setting and instead complete asynchronous learning activities and engagement on their own time. Some synchronous online office hours or group meetings may be included in this type of course, but the majority of materials will be available to students through the Canvas course site.
- Designed to meet the needs of students with a range of schedules and time zones by being as flexible as possible.
- Both instructors and students often find this kind of course helps to keep their schedules flexible since there are few requirements for mandatory real-time sessions.
- Can also be helpful learning environments for students who prefer to have a little more time to think and process course materials, so this model can be a good fit for courses that have advanced theory, applied theory, or other approaches where students are engaging in a lot of analysis or synthesis-based tasks.
- Need intentional social presence activities to ensure that students feel connected to the instructor and to each other. These kinds of activities often need to be designed in advance and included in the course throughout the term to provide social connections in addition to a relationship between the students and the content.
- Adjust your teaching plans accordingly to allow for asynchronous activities and tasks and ensure that your syllabus clearly articulates the asynchronous components for your students.
- Design a Canvas site structure that makes each week’s activities and materials easy for students to find and view.
Asynchronous/synchronous combination online courses include a mix of synchronous and asynchronous activities for students to complete. For example, students may have a once-per-week synchronous meeting with the instructor as a group via Zoom, but then spend the remaining amount of their course seat time completing other online activities as individuals or in groups. In this course format, there is a roughly half and half split between synchronous and asynchronous activities
- Asynchronous/synchronous combination online courses work well for courses that have a team-based or collaborative learning environment for students where they might need to meet as a whole group or in small groups throughout the term.
- Allows for easier social presence elements since those can be included in the synchronous meetings to help students connect with the instructor and each other to form relationships.
- Asynchronous/synchronous combination online courses can be more complex for students and for instructors since there can be a lot to juggle. It will be necessary to clearly outline the different components of the course in the syllabus so that students know the expectations of what is required for them each week of the term.
- Adjust your teaching plans accordingly to allow for asynchronous and synchronous activities and tasks and ensure that your syllabus clearly articulates each of these components for your students.
Design a Canvas site structure that makes each week’s recordings and materials easy for students to find and view if they want to re-watch a lecture, or if they need to miss a week due to illness.