Simple Strategies to Elevate your Asynchronous Delivery

By now you are probably familiar with the concept of asynchronous remote learning. If not, asynchronous learning means you and students are not limited by timing.  You are deciding that students can engage with the material on their schedule, at times, and places when they may have better bandwidth and other kinds of capacity. 

As you can imagine, asynchronous learning can be of varying quality; therefore, here are some tips and ideas to keep in mind to help make the most of your asynchronous design. One important way to make the most of your asynchronous learning is to finalize the learning materials (e.g., creation of lecture videos, suggested readings, discussion topics) during the term, which allows you to respond to students’ areas of interests or difficulties, and their feedback/suggestions, as you go. 

Post and organize your learning materials within a learning management system (either Blackboard or Canvas)

  • Organize your posted content into short chunks, ideally within learning modules. This holds true for both videos and readings
  • If using videos, make each separate idea its own video
  • When using text, use white space and headings to make text easier to process
  • Name course content and files in a consistent way 
  • Place content in a suggested order with a suggested timeline
  • Use analytics features inside of Blackboard or Canvas to help you know what students are viewing and reading. Check in with students that seem to be falling behind

Include student comprehension checks with feedback

  • Students can easily overestimate how much they are learning while viewing and reading
  • Prior to having students view or read content, ask them to complete an ungraded quiz or a set of self-check questions. This will help prepare them for the new learning
  • If creating videos, pose questions to students throughout your presentation and ask them to pause the video
    • An example of this would be to ask students to make a prediction. It helps focus their learning as the video continues
    • If you are used to using polling, such as Top Hat, this is a simple way to reuse the questions you have already created as part of your teaching
  • Similarly, after students have viewed or read a chunk of content, ask them to complete a quiz (ideally automated with built-in feedback). This should still be ungraded as the students are still learning. You could even give multiple attempts to allow them to continue practicing
  • As the instructor, review the students’ results on the quiz and follow-up with necessary resources or a synchronous session

Opportunities for active and social learning

  • As with above, quizzes can be used to promote active learning as they progress through the chunks of content
  • Structure these active learning opportunities from easy to hard to build confidence and mastery. If using Canvas, you can explore using Mastery Paths
  • Use discussion boards as a way for students to be able to engage with the content in a social manner. Here are a variety of ways to structure discussions
    • If using discussions, share with students examples of good discussion posts to help them meet your expectations
    • If grading discussions, grade based on the quality of the posts

Keeping these tips in mind when designing your asynchronous lectures, will help ensure that your students are better engaged in your learning. The comprehension checks and active learning will also help you see how students are doing and where they need extra assistance. These areas of difficulty are ideal places to intersperse synchronous sessions (e.g., Webex)!