How to create an Asynchronous eLearning Strategy
There are a variety of benefits associated with Asynchronous learning. For instance, not only can it offer learners the ability to access information and coursework when it's most convenient for them, but it also allows them to learn at their own pace and fully acquire the knowledge that is being provided before moving forward. The question is: how should you begin integrating an asynchronous learning approach into your eLearning design strategy to create the best possible eLearning experience? Check the following 7 Tips To Create an Effective Asynchronous eLearning Strategy
- Create an online forum to encourage collaboration.
The main challenge that arises with asynchronous learning is that learners often lack direct access to instructor and peer assistance. However, adding an online forum and/or social learning elements, such as Facebook and Twitter, allows you to encourage group collaboration. Learners can then tap into the knowledge and experience of their peers, or communicate with the online facilitator, while still studying the core content at their own pace. To illustrate, consider posting a question or comment on the board to spark online discussion and ask learners to post their opinion or answer. This also gives online facilitators the opportunity to view learners’ participation, track their progress, and even get feedback about the eLearning course. In other words, it offers the best of both worlds.
- Set expectations and learning objectives up front.
Before the learner even begins the eLearning course, expectations and learning objectives should be discussed. The syllabus or eLearning course outline should clearly define what's expected of learners, deadlines that must be met, and what skill sets will be developed throughout the eLearning course. This will help to keep the learners on track and also motivate them to become active participants in their own eLearning experience, given that they will have a clear idea of the benefits involved.
- Be consistent with email communications and/or updates.
It's essential to keep the eLearning course up-to-date and to remain consistent with communications. Include communication methods in the eLearning course outline so that learners know how to reach the online facilitator should they run into a problem and set expectations for when they will receive a reply. For example, you can let them know that the online facilitator should respond within a 72-hour time frame or that they prefer to chat via email. Also, ensure that all links are active in your eLearning course and that the information is still relevant. If you come across an issue, send an email to the entire class letting them know that you are aware of the problem and that you have remedied the situation.
- Develop an eLearning environment where learners can discuss and interact.
Blogs are invaluable tools if you are taking an asynchronous learning approach. They give learners a place to address any questions or concerns they may have, and offer online facilitators the ability to interact with learners and share important updates. It may also be wise to have an update page within the LMS itself that learners can visit periodically in order to get regular updates from the online facilitator or answers to questions that may arise. This offers them the support they need without making the instructor feel as though they are tied to the LMS round-the-clock. Most importantly, it's essential that the learners feel comfortable about posting and interacting on the blog or forum. They should feel encouraged to offer their input and opinions, and should be reassured that their thoughts and ideas are valued.
- Include resource links within your eLearning course.
An essential element of an asynchronous learning strategy is reliance upon online resources. You may want to consider placing relevant resource links in the eLearning course itself, so that learners can have access to important sites and articles that will help them to better understand the subject matter. For instance, if you feel that there is a webinar that may be useful in a particular eLearning course, then hyperlink that within the module so that learners can quickly and conveniently find it online. In many respects, this will allow you to create a more immersive and engaging strategy.
- Offer interactive elements to make the eLearning course more engaging.
Including podcasts, videos, and audio presentations can enable you to design asynchronous learning courses that are exciting, engaging, and informative. These tools also appeal to a variety of different learning needs, as opposed to text-based materials. You may also want to consider including games and scenarios to boost interactivity. Design reality-based scenarios and games that allow the learner to see how their newly acquired skill sets or information directly applies to life outside of the virtual classroom. This is not only a great motivational tool, but also a means to improve overall knowledge retention.
- Appoint an online facilitator to monitor and guide the eLearning experience.
Though asynchronous learner is not instructor-led, it may be helpful to appoint an online facilitator who can guide the eLearning experience and offer assistance periodically. It's important to keep in mind, however, that the facilitator should not necessarily be an active participant in the process, but an individual who sparks discussion and encourages learners to interact with the core content and one another. An online facilitator could moderate the online forums ensuring that the discussion remains on topic, and ask the important questions that help to move the discussion along. In essence, an online facilitator should help to keep the eLearning course on track and offer invaluable advice and guidance to those who may need some additional support.
Still undecided whether synchronous or asynchronous learning is the best option for your eLearning course? The Benefits of Synchronous and Asynchronous eLearning article takes a closer look at the benefits of each eLearning type, and explains why a blended learning approach may be the ideal solution.