Choosing Tools for Delivering Distance Learning (Best Practices)

What are the top three considerations when planning for the unexpected and including distance learning best practices?

Should you offer class in a synchronous or an asynchronous environment? 

Consider how each approach will affect learning objectives and outcomes.

  • Synchronous course activity requires you and your students to be in the same place at the same time, though it can be done using online learning tools.
  • Asynchronous course activities don't require students and instructors to be in the same place at the same time. The interactions can be done independently and yet still be rigorous and thoughtful, depending on the activity design. 

Synchronous Activity Requirements

  • You must have a tool for facilitation of the synchronous activity. The supported campus-wide solutions is Zoom.
  • You must have a predetermined time to meet synchronously. Don't forget to take time zones into consideration.
  • Each participant and/or facilitator must connect to an appropriate network supported by the tool chosen. Be sure there's enough bandwidth to conduct synchronous communication. Bandwidth requirements increase or decrease depending on what is being shared at any given time (i.e. video streams require more bandwidth than audio or slide presentations).
  • What instructions do the participants need? 
    • How do they get connected?
    • How do they use the needed features?
    • What participation is expected of the students during the session? If participants or leaders have low bandwidth, they will not likely be able to use video or have a quality experience.
    • Will the session be recorded? If so, where will you share the recording link?
  • Have you tested using the tool before your first session?
  • Do you have troubleshooting techniques already outlined for all users?

Asynchronous Activity Requirements

  • You must have a central tool for facilitating the asynchronous activity. The supported campus-wide solution is our learning management system (LMS), Blackboard Learn Ultra. You can provide content to the students by posting it on Blackboard Learn Ultra. Content can include files, lecture capture (Panopto), web videos, publisher ancillaries, and websites.
  • You do not need a predetermined time for activities, but you do need due dates for the final deliverables. Blackboard Learn Ultra has multiple tools that can be used to support deliverables including assignments, assessments (tests), discussion boards, journals, etc. 
  • Asynchronous network connectivity is less crucial than with synchronous connections. However, students must have a computer or a mobile device with which they can work online. If some of your students are regularly working on mobile devices, please ensure the information you are providing is mobile-friendly. Authoring directly in a web-based tool is the best approach as it will be responsive with the size of the device used for reviewing content. Posting text directly on the course site without requiring students to download PDFs or documents is preferred for the mobile experience. If you must post a document for download, PDFs are a better choice than Word documents and PowerPoint presentations. PowerPoint presentations are particularly challenging to view on a small mobile screen. 
  • What instructions do students need to complete their deliverables?
  • Have you previewed the student view to ensure it matches your expectations (Student Preview)?
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Article ID: 99867
Tue 3/3/20 3:48 PM
Wed 5/15/24 3:09 PM

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