Comparing Approaches to Distance Education

Module 2

In Module 2, we studied the differences between synchronous and asynchronous technologies used in distance education.  Through our readings and discussions, we weighed the advantages and disadvantages associated with each type of technology.

Asynchronous classrooms include material which is “accessible at any time via webpages and interactive tutorials and quizzes,” (Pullen & Snow, 2007, p.137).  Students and instructors can communicate with each other, but feedback is delayed.  Because of this delay, students can feel disengaged from the learning experience.  During discussions, it was agreed upon that one of the greatest advantages to using asynchronous technology was that it allows the student to access the course and participate according to their own convenience.  Asynchronous technology is also good because there is less confusion or potential for error in terms of technology.  Another advantage to asynchronous technology is that students and instructors have the time to craft well-written contributions and provide meaningful feedback to all participants.

The use of synchronous technology “results in the easiest transition from the traditional classroom,” because interactions take place in real time (Pullen & Snow, 2007, p.138).  Some examples of synchronous technology include streaming lectures on the web, using Skype for group discussions, or participating in online chat rooms.  Synchronous technologies were preferred mostly because of the timeliness of feedback.  Other advantages over traditional education were that it saves time and money by having the option to get things done from home.  Despite these positives, synchronous technology poses difficulties because students need to access the technology at a specific time and don’t have the flexibility associated with asynchronous technology.  Technical issues were another problem many associated with synchronous technology.

Pullen, J., & Snow, C. (2007). Integrating synchronous and asynchronous internet distributed education for maximum effectiveness. Education and Information Technologies, 12(3), 137-148.

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