How did we get here?
Most teachers and students were blindsided in mid-March when most School Districts around the nation switched to virtual learning. Before the COVID 19 related shut downs "Zoom" was just an onomatopoeia and toilet paper was not a luxury. Most school districts have planned for virtual synchronous instruction to begin this fall and teachers and administrators are scrambling to prepare what these "online classes" will look like. Obviously in-person teaching is optimal, but we must make the best of our current circumstances (just imagine what it was like for students during the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918!)
Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Learning
Both instructional strategies have their advantages and disadvantages and in fact should be used to compliment one another. Students have been isolated for months, they are craving peer interactions and distractions from the quotidian- by having a synchronous learning environment students and teachers are connected, there is routine, you can form positive relationships with students, students practice academic language and create shared and lasting experiences for your class. Asynchronous learning offers more flexibility for students, allow for self-pacing but may be less engaging (depending on the lesson). Ideally, synchronous learning should be like the "flipped" approach- where students prepare for a lesson (e.g. Read an article, watch a video etc.) and then students use that information for discussions, practice, and opportunities to ask questions. Conversely, a teacher can use the synchronous class to introduce new concepts, explain course work and students can independently or in small groups complete a project or assignment. Both strategies should be apart of the new Virtual classroom repertoire.
View Virtual Learning as an Opportunity
At my new site in Santa Ana, Circulos we are excited to integrate these new online tools into our teaching. While there is a steep learning curve, we are motivated and inspired to master these new tools because we want to be connected to our students and ensure they thrive academically and for now Zoom offers the best opportunity to reach our students. Online learning will be a struggle for teachers, students and parents, but we are ALL learners now and as teachers know...we can learn anything, given the right tools. Use THIS Resource to help build your virtual classroom using Zoom (see slide show below for how to integrate Zoom into your new virtual Classroom).
Dr. JB Caldwell