In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, online learning has become the primary mode of education in several parts of the world. As a result, virtual instructors now have to decide whether synchronous or asynchronous learning is better for their students.
Synchronous learning refers to the type of instruction that takes place in real time. But, unlike a traditional classroom setup, learners are not required to meet at the same location. Instead, an online classroom software manages the entire experience and allows everyone to engage with one another simultaneously.
Just as with any form of learning, this option can have challenges and cause hiccups for anyone who is unfamiliar with it. But, given the right strategy, you can make it a valuable opportunity for your learners.
So, here's how to implement synchronous learning through an online classroom software from the instructor's perspective.
Identify the Skill Level of Your Learners
First, it’s important to understand the skill level your students are starting from. If you’re teaching younger learners, you need to exert some extra effort to familiarize them with online classes. This is important since all online learning software is a little different.
Young students might need some extra help to get the hang of things. After all, a bit of technical expertise is required. Make sure that you fully assess how the software works before launching your first virtual class. This will help you to better explain how the software works in terms that everyone can understand.
During the first day of class, be sure to create a warm, welcoming environment for all of your new students, so they feel comfortable asking for help. Take some extra time to go over how to navigate the learning software, and be prepared to respond to any questions or concerns from your students.
Test All the Devices
As an instructor, you want to make sure that your device is properly working. If it tends to run slowly or freeze once in a while, that's a bad sign. It can affect your class, and more interruptions will lead to less student engagement. Using a computer set is always ideal, but you can also use a laptop. Check and test your webcam, headphones and microphone, too. Select the best audio and video settings before the class begins.
It's best to keep in mind that phones and tablets are not suitable for instructors. They can be used by your students, of course, but they're not adequate for teaching a class. Once the session begins, you can ask what devices your students prefer to use. Additionally, expect that facilitating an online class won't always be smooth the first time around, so don’t be too hard on yourself. After all, online instructors are learning new skills, too!
A Stable and Fast Internet Connection
You will also need a stable and fast internet connection to create the best learning environment for your students. Take note that both go hand-in-hand. Even the fastest internet speeds aren’t worth much if they’re unstable. The last thing you want is to become disconnected from the entire class, have pages that load slowly, or audio that breaks up. It’s hard to focus with these distractions. Tech interruptions can also cause miscommunication. So, before starting the synchronous class, it’s best to run a speed test on your device.
Be Aware of the Memory Capacity
Most virtual classroom software is known to be memory-intensive. So, you will have to close all unneeded applications, such as PDF writer, Adobe Photoshop, PowerPoint, and others that run in the background in order to save maximum memory for your virtual classroom. With better memory capacity, you will have more room to navigate the software and open any other apps that are necessary for the class.
Teach Learners to Navigate the Software
In an online classroom setting, you'll meet a diverse range of students, and they all learn in different ways, and at different speeds. For example, some students are visual learners, while others absorb material more easily from hearing it.
It's best to provide students with a tour in order to go over how the software works. To accomplish this, you have some different options. You can share your screen, or present a video that explains the software with clear instructions. This is the best way to help your students succeed. It’s also your chance to introduce learning software features that they’re unfamiliar with. Explain the importance of each feature, and how they can use them during the class discussion. Be ready to answer questions, too.
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Offer Supplementary Materials
Before the class begins, make sure that all learning materials are readily available to your students. You can share links that direct them to videos, websites, or articles that will help them gain a better understanding of the course work. You can also store downloadable files on the cloud, just in case learning materials need to be accessed offline. Some learners prefer printing the materials, too, so this is a practical option to include for anyone who wants access.
Setting Your Approach
As stated earlier, it’s important to understand your learners. Different skill levels will require a different type of approach. For example, if you are dealing with kids, you have to be friendlier and more affectionate. Teenagers prefer instructors who understand the changes they’re going through. And, of course, adults are more mature in nature, so you may use industry jargon, along with an advanced teaching approach. But regardless of the age group you’re responsible for, you should always adopt a professional approach that best suits the needs of your students.
Use a Mixture of Different Learning Materials
An online classroom enables instructors to explore endless possibilities. There are many tools that are available to make learning easier for your students. Feel free to use images, diagrams, emoticons, audio, video, and graphs in your presentations and activities. All of these things will motivate your students to join in more regularly.
Divide Learners into Groups
Collaboration is one strong aspect of synchronous learning. Since everyone is supposed to take the class at the same time, learners can interact with one another. Make the most of this by dividing them into small groups. You can assign an online discussion or activity that will promote camaraderie, as well as a sense of belonging within the class. This is an effective way to welcome your students to a synchronous setup.
Related Content: 4 Ways To Enhance Interactivity with a Distance Learning Software
In an online class, students can look away from the screen, use their phones during a discussion, and even play games. Some students have shorter attention spans than others, which makes it more challenging for instructors to keep them focused during important lessons.
The best way to combat these distractions is to redirect their engagement every few minutes. You may call a name, pose a question, give a funny example related to the topic, and also remind them of the importance of learning the course work.
After the discussion, conducting a test is a necessary part of the learning process. This will help you evaluate your students’ understanding and class performance. It’s also the best way to determine which students are excelling with the material, and which students need further help. You can set up timed quizzes, worksheets, and even a fun game to boost their interest.
Ask for Feedback
It can also be useful to ask for direct feedback from your students. This will help you identify your strengths, as well as any areas in need of improvement in order for you to become a better instructor. It’s not necessary to provide an opportunity for feedback during discussions. You can also allow your students to send private messages through the learning system software. Regardless, it’s helpful if students feel that they’re welcome to provide comments and suggestions.
Limit Your Class Time
As you conduct online classes, it’s best to stick to a schedule. Even if the class is fun and engaging, students are unlikely to enjoy spending more than two hours facing their virtual screens. They will eventually lose interest and won’t be able to absorb further information. In general, one to two hours is an ideal time range for a synchronous class session.
Schedule Online Classes in Advance
Class scheduling is important to ensure everyone is on the same page. And, it becomes even more important for synchronous classes since everything has to be conducted in real time.
It’s not uncommon for instructors to be responsible for several classes in a day, so it's best to make a clear and consistent schedule. Always notify students of any changes well in advance, and remind them about the importance of good time management.
You can also monitor how well your learners perform during class. And, if you sense that some students are struggling to attend and participate due to conflicts in scheduling, you may consider moving to a different time slot that works for everyone in the class.
Seek Help from Experts
Have you ever been stuck trying to understand an instructional video for classroom software? Are you struggling to send a reminder on the chat? Anyone can feel lost or confused during a synchronous class. This is normal when making adjustments. Aside from students, instructors can also become frustrated with online software. So if you’re in the same situation, don’t hesitate to seek help.
ReadyTech is Ready to Help
ReadyTech offers the best training and learning delivery platform for self-paced and instructor-led training. Our advanced, innovative solutions empower instructors and learners around the globe. If you want to hear more about what we offer, don't hesitate to contact us today. We’re here to make your job easier.