Types of Online Learning – Which One is the Best Fit
So far, of the 550,000 students in B.C., 2,300 have been back in public schools and 1,300 have been at independent schools. Among them, the children of essential service workers have already been in the class for weeks and may provide a glimpse of what’s ahead.
B.C. Minister of Education Rob Fleming speaks to Jacob Cunliffe, 13, left, and his brother Joshua as they wash their hands.
The classroom is rearranged to keep social distances; lots of hand sanitizer and posters are used to remind kids about staying apart. For teachers, it is also a challenge and adjustment. With one-third of students in class and the rest remains at home, online learning is still a dominant method of learning.
According to a course description announced by Fordham University, there are two basic types of online learning: asynchronous and synchronous.
Asynchronous Online Courses
These types of course offerings do not take place in real-time. Students are provided with content and assignments and are given a time frame to complete course work and exams. Interaction usually takes place through discussion boards, blogs and wikis. As a result, there is no class meeting time. Asynchronous online learning environments are effective for students with time constraints or busy schedules. This is the dominant method of adopted by BC schools. The main reason that prevents a student to take a real-time class is the lack of proper devices or high-speed internet.
Synchronous Online Courses
These types of course offerings require the instructor and all enrolled students to interact online simultaneously. Similar in some ways to a webinar, participants interact through text, video or audio chat. Synchronous learning environments enable students to participate in a course from a distance in real-time. This is an ideal form taken by most private schools. The main reason that prevents some courses from being conducted synchronously is the huge preparation work needed to keep the online course interactive.
During the last 2 months, although kids of essential workers were allowed to go back to school, they actually had a tough transition. On top of the emotional and social pressures of the pandemic, the children had to get used to a new way of being in school, being away from their old friends and teachers, and meeting new ones. As of now, the province is focused on safely teaching the children of the front line and essential service workers.
What type of leaning will best fit these kids?
The answer is a Hybrid plan. Hybrid courses, also known as blended courses, are learning environments that allow for both in-person and online interaction. Typically, hybrid courses meet in person several times during a day and provide computer-based communication in between those face to face sessions. Meanwhile, it is important to notice that these school-age children – mostly from Kindergarten to Grade 6 – need interaction more than high school students while their parents work on the front lines.
Teachers at the Essential Service Workers School in West Vancouver use pool noodles and gloves to socially distances and to stop the spread of COVID-19. (Ben Nelms)
Therefore, we should help create a collaborative online community. When a teacher is not available to give real-time instruction, try making an online forum within these kids, even it is a group of mixed age. The Grade 6 can help Grade 3 and the Grade 3 can help Grade 1. Older children have the opportunity to serve as mentors and take leadership roles while younger children will develop a sense of family and care.
Hopefully, a “hybrid course” can provide an enjoying learning experience for the kids of essential workers.