This is the sixteenth blog in our how-to series for educators and example 15 out of 21 ways to teach with Echo360. Read the introduction to this series here.

Why should I teach to a class of distance learners?

There can be many reasons why we teach to a group of remote learners, but one things is sure, the number of remote learners and online courses are growing rapidly. A recent survey of more than 4,700 colleges and universities showed that there are now more than 6.3 million undergraduate students who have taken at least 1 online course (U.S News & World). Considering MOOCs alone, over 81M individuals started one of over 9000 courses in 2017; these were offered through the various MOOC platforms (EdX, FutureLearn, Coursera, etc) by over 800 different global universities (Class Central, 2017).  With competition for international students becoming fiercer than ever before, more demands on learners’ time to support families and part-time jobs, and an increasing need for continuing professional development amongst workers, it is no surprise that educational institutions need to diversify student pathways to their programmes (Jeff Selingo, 2018).  Schools all over the world are running out of brick and mortar classrooms, so are realizing that to grow enrollment they must be efficient at teaching online.

How can I do that?

Much like the selection of Baskin-Robbins confectionary, there are several flavors to choose from when it comes to teaching online. Let’s quickly identify them:

  • Asynchronous learning is a general term used to describe forms of education, instruction, and learning that do not occur in the same place or at the same time. The term is most commonly applied to various forms of digital and online learning in which students learn from instruction—such as prerecorded video lessons or game-based learning tasks that students complete on their own—that is not being delivered in person or in real time. Below is an example of prerecorded video lesson by Mac Hall (Coastal Carolina University) where the instructor is walking the student’s through what they will need to know for the up and coming exam.
  • Synchronous learning is a general term used to describe forms of education, instruction, and learning that occur at the same time, but not in the same place. The term is most commonly applied to various forms of televisual, digital, and online learning in which students learn from instructors, colleagues, or peers in real time, but not in person. For example, educational video conferences, interactive webinars, chat-based online discussions, and lectures that are broadcast at the same time they delivered would all be considered forms of synchronous learning. Below is an example of Dr. Monica Fine teaching both a face to face and online class simultaneously.
  • Hybrid” or “Blended” learning are names commonly used to describe courses in which some traditional face-to-face “seat time” has been replaced by online learning activities. The purpose of a hybrid course is to take advantage of the best features of both face-to-face and online learning. A hybrid course is designed to integrate face-to-face and online activities so that they reinforce, complement, and elaborate one another, instead of treating the online component as an add-on or duplicate of what is taught in the classroom.

With Echo360, we can support each of these types of teaching. For example, an asynchronous class can be a Class containing a screencast, activities and discussion topics that is shared with students. Similarly, synchronous classes can be offered by live broadcasting from a classroom or desktop to reach any number of remote learners. Check out these earlier articles from this blog series to learn how to use Echo360 to teach in this way.

Anything else I should be aware of?

Computer-assisted instruction and practice certainly relieves the teacher of some of the traditional classroom duties, and it becomes very easy to become an inactive supervisor rather than an individual who remains personally involved as students engage in learning activities remember that students are very different. Teachers must remember that the relationship they have with their students is an important one, and encouraging and supportive interaction must continue to occur. There are times when nothing can replace the personal attention of a teacher.

Introduce the technology slowly and ensure that all learners are able to confidently access the platform before adding new activities. You will be able to accelerate your pace when all your learners have used it several times.

Live broadcasting with Echo360 currently uses Flash, so users are required to download Flash on their devices and ensure that their browser is not blocking it. Further instructions are available at our Resource Centre.

Does it work?

Studies into the efficacy of online learning typically show that a well constructed and adequately facilitated course compare favorably to face to face courses. In a review of studies into online learning, Bernard et al, 2014 examination of prior meta-analyses on this topic concluded that there is broad equivalence in the performance of online and ‘traditional’ courses, whilst Allen et al, 2006 demonstrated a slight improvement in student performance on online courses.

At an Australian College, Alphacrucis, lecture capture technology is being used extensively to transform the delivery of teaching. As with many of the education institutions using Echo360, this takes a variety of forms, each designed to suit the particular needs of a course, an instructor, or a group of students. Online and blended learning is critical to Alphacruis students as they are dispersed broadly across Australia and New Zealand. Example of current use include:

  • Provide on-demand access to course content on their personal digital devices.
  • Enable advanced learning models such as flipped classes and blended learning.
  • Provide personalized, distance learning to students who can now receive the same dynamic classroom experience as on-campus students.
  • Provide “live streaming” of course lectures where students can interact with each other as well as address the issue of overcrowded classrooms.

And what do the users think? Well, check out this video to learn about what the instructors and students themselves think at Alphacruis.

If you have found this blog helpful, but missed the previous posts in the series, here they are:

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