Asynchronous Interaction

What is asynchronous learning? 

Asynchronous learning is learner-centered. The instructor is not holding live lectures; rather, the students complete activities on their own time. Asynchronous learning is independent. Students are able to complete materials whenever and wherever they choose. Asynchronous learning is self-paced. Students are able to break larger readings, assignments, or activities into smaller chunks to be completed at a pace that is comfortable for learners. 

What are the advantages of asynchronous learning? 

  • Flexibility. Students can work on assignments, activities, readings, or other course materials during the day or night—whatever suits their lifestyle. This allows many students who have other commitments, such as full time jobs, or children at home, the opportunity to complete course work when they can dedicate their undivided attention to it. 
  • Pacing. As previously mentioned, self-pacing allows students to break larger readings, assignments, or activities into smaller chunks to be completed at a pace that is comfortable for them. 
  • Reflection. When students are able to work on assignments at their own pace, in their own environment, they have more time to reflect on their work. They are able to review assignments before submitting them; re-read passages for clarity; and analyze the course materials. 

What tools are best for asynchronous learning?

There are many tools available in Blackboard available to use for asynchronous learning. We’ve broken these down into various categories to show how you can use tools in a variety of settings. 

Tools for presenting and sharing information

  • Readings 
    • Textbooks 
    • Open Educational Resources (OERs) 
    • Journal articles 
    • News articles 
  • Pre-recorded lectures 
  • Third-party media 
    • YouTube
    • TedTalks 
    • Podcasts 
  • Websites/Primary Sources

Tools for demonstrating

  • Existing demonstrations from experts (YouTube)
  • Pre-recorded videos 
    • Self-recorded demo 
    • Screen recording 

Tools for debating and discussing 

  • Discussion board 
  • Blogs 
  • Journals 
  • Recorded video/audio

Tools for collaboration 

  • Discussion boards
  • Wikis
  • Groups tool 
  • Email 
  • File sharing 

Tools for checking for understanding 

  • Quizzes
  • Tests
  • Assignments
  • Blogs
  • Journals
  • Wikis
  • Discussions

Tools for socializing and team-building 

  • Discussion boards (“cafe” or “off-topic” threads that allow for student conversations)
  • Wikis (for collaborative off-topic discussions) 
  • Groups tool

Tools for getting and giving help 

  • Private tools 
    • Email 
    • Journal
  • Public tools 
    • Discussion board (for Q&As) 
    • Announcements (for clarifications)

Tips for moderating an asynchronous discussion 

When facilitating discussions, there can be different moderators: instructors, TAs, and students. Below are some tips for the different types of moderators. 

Instructor/TA as moderator

  • As the moderator, you:
    • Provide presence and expertise 
    • Correct assumptions 
    • Post follow-up questions 
  • In this case, the moderator should:  
    • Model how students should write
    • Recap with announcements via the Blackboard page 
    • Check in regularly; write at least once or twice weekly

Student as moderator

  • Having students as moderators: 
    • Increases engagement 
    • Puts students in a leadership role 
    • Encourages collaboration among peers 
  • Students as moderators can: 
    • Prepare ahead and create threads 
    • Respond to fellow students 
    • Write a reflection on overall discussion

General tips for moderators 

  • Keep the discussion running smoothly and on topic
  • Help elicit thoughts and opinions
  • Manage group dynamics
  • Does not have to be one specific person