Improving Involvement Through Interaction in Synchronous Teaching/Learning in Higher Education

Improving Involvement Through Interaction in Synchronous Teaching/Learning in Higher Education

Tami Seifert (Kibutzim College of Education, Israel)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7567-2.ch012

Abstract

The chapter investigates methods for the implementation of synchronous teaching with lecturers and students in a teacher education college and discusses the importance of training for lecturers and teachers working with this medium. Additionally, the chapter relates to the planning of synchronous learning and teaching in various online environments for different purposes and shaping of the synchronous teaching-learning space. The findings presented here, are part of an ongoing effort to clarify how to provide an optimal student-centered environment in synchronous online learning platforms. Recognizing the advantages/disadvantages of synchronous teaching and its contribution can help teachers to exploit this media means optimally when planning teaching. Facilitators choose different technologies and teaching practices to develop and moderate learning activities. These are just some of the decisions that impact the role of teachers and administrators. As the technologies they use evolve, so ongoing research can assist understanding of the teacher's role in distance education.
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Background

Synchronous Learning in Higher Education

There has been significant penetration of a-synchronous teaching in the higher education system (Lee & Dashew, 2011; McGee & Reis, 2012), enabling learning in any global location (Popov, 2009). However, for those who prefer immediate feedback and interactive meetings, online a-synchronous learning may create a sense of isolation and lack of involvement (Cunningham, 2014; Lee & Dashew, 2011). Additional limitations of a-synchronous learning include the absence of a social presence (Han, 2013), delayed feedback (Karal, Çebi, & Turgut, 2011), low-level participation (Cunningham, 2014), impersonal connections (Kear, Chetwynd, Williams & Donelan, 2015) and lack of motivation and low participation (Hartie, Hung, Chen & Kinshuk, 2010). Some students find it difficult to participate in face-to-face meetings.

Researchers suggest that if possible the number of meetings should be enlarged to give students more opportunities to get to know each other/options for attendance (Semingson, Owens, Crosslin & Brown, 2017). Even in face-to-face courses, there are many varied reasons why students fail to attend (Gillies, 2008) e.g. due to health problems or difficult weather (White, Ramirez, Smith & Plonowski, 2010). Moreover people with disabilities are often unable to attend (Norberg, 2012). However, recent advances in distance education have the potential to fill the gaps caused by time and location constraints. Distance learning is now truly able to help bridge the digital divide and offer flexible education and lifelong learning.

Synchronous online learning, supported in the main by video-conferencing and chats has strong potential to help develop a learning community and assist teacher education. Both pre-service teachers and teacher-educators experience synchronous teaching as a more social experience and this prevents frustration since it allows the learners' questions to be considered in real time (Hrastinski, 2008). Synchronous events allow learners to feel that they belong and are less isolated.

Synchronous learning also provides a response and enables real-time participation for a larger number of learners without limitation to a geographical region and/or a physical location (Bonakdarian, Whittaker & Yang, 2010; Butz, Stansky, Peterson & Majerus, 2014; Niemiec & Otte, 2009).

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