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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Synchronous Vs Asynchronous Technologies - Tools For Distance Learning

Computers and the internet are becoming more relevant to distance learning (and traditional) courses, but some of the tools available for today's distance courses are not particularly futuristic or advanced. By looking at synchronous and asynchronous technologies, this article aims to give an overview of all the ways students can be taught and instructed on distance learning courses today.

The two primary synchronous methods for distance learning are Videoconferencing and Web Conferencing. Videoconferencing in education allows two sets of people (usually a lecturer and group, or two groups, or one on one) to see each other and communicate in real time. In simple terms these are very similar to traditional conferences, lectures, or seminars, but the method is notable for the savings made on travel and the great distances that can be crossed with little delay. Additionally, with the advent of broadband, videoconferencing is now often done over the internet.

Web conferencing is similar, though with less of a focus on speaking and seeing others and instead using an instant message style format. The principals are the same, but web conferencing is often preferred today due to the technology being cheaper (no cameras or microphones), and a speedier connection between users.

Today, one of the regarded benefits of distance learning is the fact that the student can complete his/her studies where and when she wants to. Consequently, courses have been adapted to accommodate asynchronous technologies. In the past, audio and video cassettes containing instructions by institutions and lecturers were posted to students, however today, equivalent instruction can be e-mailed as easily with the necessary media, photos, or texts attached.

Further asynchronous advancements have been made with the introduction of forums and wikis to distance education. Forums are instantly communal and very simple to use, allowing work to be viewed and discussed easily. Separate threads can be established by each user and can concern texts, problems, classes, and fun issues - as well as being easy to monitor by a teacher or lecturer. Wikis follow a similar principal, but are typically intended for available viewing of outside users. They can be a good incentive for students to work together and maintain an informative collection of simple factual web pages, with the intention of teaching students to strive in the quality of their work - particularly when they know it can be viewed by the public.

Sarah Maple writes about education online and home study

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And where at you logic?