Synchronous (i.e. Connect) vs. asynchronous tools (Forums): Which is better at fostering online learning? Why? What are your reasons and evidence for this?
Although I think that both have value… for fostering online learning, I feel that synchronous tools provides a richer experience of learning, but… this could be skewed unless there is a participatory need to be involved. Synchronous learning allows a learner to hear the spoken word vs just reading about them. Using ones voice there is a level of connection which can be achieved. Does being “live” in a synchronous class actually mean being “present”? Being there in person, does not always equate to a level of discourse. Of course there is a level of immediacy and spontaneity… conversations and discussions.
One thing that I have noticed in both synchronous and asynchronous is the ability to drive the conversation and effective discourse. Personally, I think this means asking the right questions to get more than a yes/no answer. Veerman, Andriessen, & Kanselaar (2000) noted the importance of consensus building. You want a consensus built, but arriving at consensus isn’t always pretty. I have found that there is still this view of choosing words – although painful, I want someone to say “I don’t agree” and let’s discuss. Stewart, Harlow, & DeBacco explored students’ experiences through a research study – a few points which I agree: “learning is a social practice” and social theory of learning and the need to integrate social participation as a process of learning and knowing. I look forward to more discussion about these topics. I am of the camp that synchronous “works”.
A.L Veerman, J.E.B Andriessen, G Kanselaar, Learning through synchronous electronic discussion, Computers & Education, Volume 34, Issues 3–4, 1 April 2000, Pages 269-290, ISSN 0360-1315, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0360-1315(99)00050-0. Stewart, A. R., Harlow, D. B., & DeBacco, K. (2011). Students' experience of synchronous learning in distributed environments.Distance Education, 32(3), 357-381.