My student says s/he prefers live online classes. Why are some of your online classes asynchronous?
My own kids took, between them, about a dozen online classes from various providers when they were home schooled. I observed what worked for them, and why, and took those lessons to heart in designing my own online classes.
Most of my online classes are live. I am now offering “Philosophically Speaking” and "Stock Market Challenge: An Intro to Finance & Investment" live online. Because "Philosophically Speaking" is a discussion-based class with minimal lecture, the live online format allows a larger pool of students to experience the kind of in-person philosophy discussion we would have sitting around a seminar or dining room table. Likewise, a live online format, combined with a private forum for supplemental discussion, allows a larger pool of students to participate in the class discussions and investment team activities of "Stock Market Challenge." I am also now offering re-designed live online versions of "Statecraft 2030: Global Issues, Leadership Choices" and "Your Future World: Human Geography 2050" to accommodate high school students outside the DC metro area. "Writing in the Age of ChatGPT" is primarily live with some asynchronous one-on-one work. For younger students, I will continue to offer the "Geography: Live Online!" classes that I began during the pandemic. None of my live classes are recorded.
My literature classes are all asynchronous, though, because I have found this approach promotes greater student engagement with the material. Students in my literature classes spend their time reading, thinking, and writing. No pre-recorded videos or PowerPoint presentations to watch. No online lectures during which a student can zone out (or play a game or watch YouTube in another tab). My approach to teaching literature online requires each student to think about and engage with the material independently. It gives everyone a voice in the conversation, not just those who are the loudest or most opinionated or quickest to respond. It makes learning an active, not a passive, experience. I also think every English class should have some writing associated with it. (Don’t you?) Although our discussion of the literature may be asynchronous, it is also animated and interactive.
At present, I have no plans to move “Academic Writing,” "Hands-On Geography," or “10 Weeks in Asia” online. "Academic Writing," for instance, involves guided field trips to research libraries, and "Hands-On Geography" truly is hands on. After all, one of the benefits of my in-person classes is the opportunity to learn alongside peers and, potentially, friends.
"I wasn't sure about the asynchronous presentation but I am now a fan as it allows my deep thinker the time to process and chew on the material a little bit prior to answering the questions. In addition, the class has provided my son with a much needed outlet for sharing his thoughts and ideas with other learners who operate at his level. The feedback from Christine has been impressive as she interacts with the class, commenting on posts and providing additional links that tie in with the discussion."
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