How Instructors and Students Can Improve Virtual Collaboration
Donna Chapman | November 12, 2020
Higher Education, Remote Learning4 min read
Higher education institutions must rethink the different modalities that they use to provide instruction in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. For many students, the best learning happens when they are together and can collaborate. Professors allow students to break out into smaller groups to help strengthen concepts presented and monitor to see if the students understand the material.
Universities now rely on a hybrid model of limited in-person classes and remote education. Enabling the opportunity to collaborate with other students and the professor is necessary now more than ever.
Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication and Collaboration
Collaboration and communication needs vary between students. Additionally, a professor’s teaching style, the material being presented, and the defined learning objectives all impact the style of communication and collaboration used.
Asynchronous learning may take advantage of new technologies as well. The primary difference is that asynchronous learning does not rely on a set schedule. The learning is self-paced. Professors who are also working remotely can deliver the relevant content, materials, and assignments through a number of digital platforms and make them accessible as needed.
With the right technology on hand, students can interact with the assignments, resource materials, and each other no matter their location or time zone.
The Importance of Synchronous Learning
Synchronous learning most closely resembles the traditional in-class experience that we have become accustomed to. The real-time delivery of information creates an opportunity for conversations that have been proven to be effective for student engagement.
Synchronous learning provides the opportunity for concepts being taught to be applied and to collaborate with other students. Synchronous learning is also valuable as it provides students and educators with the opportunity to interact with each other on a social, albeit distanced, level.
The Importance of Asynchronous Learning
Pre-pandemic, students from around the world would travel to their chosen university’s campus. Here they would live and attend classes together – all in the same time zone. Today, many students are not traveling to their school which means educators are now being forced to deliver their coursework to students in multiple time zones around the world.
Asynchronous learning is useful in these cases when it is difficult, if not impossible, to have all of your students on the same schedule.
Bluescape improves the classroom experience, whether it takes place in a room, online, or a combination of both. Students and instructors can use Bluescape to collaboratively share, present, and review class materials, assignments, and projects from any device, at any time.
Incorporate Existing Technologies
Bluescape empowers everyone to teach and learn with the applications they use every day. Create Office365 or Google documents and upload them to Bluescape or share them with OneDrive and Google Drive links. Video conferencing is built into Bluescape, including support for Cisco Webex and Zoom, so everyone can communicate without losing context.
Enrich the Experience with Dynamic Content and Media
Bluescape makes all of your course content visible and accessible instead of being limited to a single device viewed on a single projector or screen share. Add photos, graphics, and videos from your device or from your Box and Dropbox accounts. Present web pages with an embedded browser. And visually orchestrate the content to invite comparison, cluster similar concepts, and accelerate visual learning.
Workspace persistence means curricula can be pre-planned and adapted throughout the term. Assignments and projects can be annotated, updated, and monitored over time so everyone stays involved and actively participates in all aspects of their work.
Donna is a trusted advisor in the dynamic higher-ed space for over 25 years. She’s passionate about impacting the student experience and the value of education through transformative tech. She is President of the E-Board at Bridgewater State University.
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