Teaching Effectively During Times of Disruption
Pedagogy in Time of Disruption
Teaching during times of potential disruption requires creative and flexible thinking about how instructors can support students in achieving essential core course learning objectives. This document offers suggestions for instructors at Middlesex County College looking to continue offering a student-centered learning experience in a remote or online learning environment.
While the process will no doubt feel unfamiliar and at times possibly frustrating, try as much as possible to be patient. There will always be hiccups, but times of disruption are, by their nature, disruptive, and everyone expects that. Be willing to switch tactics if something isn’t working. Above all, stay focused on making sure the students are comfortable, and keep a close eye on the course learning goals—while you might not be able to teach something exactly the way you imagined, as long as you’re still meeting the learning goals of the course, you’re doing fine.
Synchronous vs. Asynchronous?
There are two options for instructors to facilitate class sessions remotely:
- Synchronous: instructors and students gather at the same time and interact in “real time” with a very short or “near-real time” exchange between instructors and students.
- Asynchronous: instructors prepare course materials for students in advance of students’ access. Students may access the course materials at a time of their choosing and will interact with each over a longer period of time.
Instructors may choose to engage their students synchronously or asynchronously depending on the course content or material that needs to be taught. There are many advantages and disadvantages to asynchronous and synchronous teaching options.
Advantages of Synchronous Teaching
- Immediate personal engagement between students and instructors, which may create greater feelings of community and lessen feelings of isolation
- More responsive exchanges between students and instructors, which may prevent miscommunication or misunderstanding
Disadvantages of Synchronous Teaching
- More challenging to schedule shared times for all students and instructors
- Some students may face technical challenges or difficulties if they do not have fast or powerful WiFi networks accessible
Advantages of Asynchronous Teaching
- Higher levels of temporal flexibility, which may simultaneously make the learning experiences more accessible to different students and also make an archive of past materials accessible
- Increased cognitive engagement since students will have more time to engage with and explore the course material
Disadvantages of Asynchronous Teaching
- Students may feel less personally exchanged and less satisfied without the social interaction between their peers and instructors
- Course material may be misunderstood or have the potential to be misconstrued without the real-time interaction