1. Conceptual Models for Asynchronous & Blended Learning
  2. cuLearn Tools for Asynchronous Lessons
    1. Tools for displaying, introducing & organizing content
    2. Tools for assessing prior understanding and/or understanding of new content

In addition to a synchronous approach to online teaching, you can consider leveraging asynchronous options. Courses with an asynchronous component can be:

  • Fully asynchronous – i.e., all mandatory course components are asynchronous; any synchronous components are optional, such as office hours.
  • Blended or mixed modality – i.e., some mandatory course components are asynchronous, and some are synchronous.

To use asynchronous teaching and learning to your best advantage, consider:

  • available conceptual models
  • available cuLearn tools

For tips on synchronous learning tools, check out this webpage.

Conceptual Models for Asynchronous & Blended Learning

One model to help you design any learning experience, online or not, is the “CLAASS” lesson planning model. Essentially, the model provides a 6-step process for constructing a learning experience, as follows:

  • Capture their attention
  • Lead through to the learning outcomes
  • Assess previous knowledge
  • Activate new knowledge
  • Solidify with assessment
  • Summarize

While not every lesson we create will necessarily require each element, the CLAASS model prompts us to think about when and how we are doing things such as informing our students about our agenda and learning outcomes for the lesson, pre-assessing our students prior understanding of a topic, and/or checking their understanding of new content that you’ve introduced. As you build your online lesson, try to incorporate such elements into the asynchronous online experience.

Using the elements of the CLAASS model as our guide, we can sketch out a rough model for conceptualizing the online lesson experience, where (A) indicates an asynchronous element and (S) indicates a synchronous element:

Figure 1: A Lesson Model for Online Learning

We can further break that down to models that are either entirely asynchronous or blended:

Figure 2: An Asynchronous Lesson Plan Model

Figure 3: A Blended Lesson Plan Model

cuLearn Tools for Asynchronous Lessons

Given the elements of the CLAASS model and the models derived from those above, we can now start to think about which tools in cuLearn we might use to create an effective, engaging asynchronous learning experience.

Tools for displaying, introducing & organizing content

  • Upload a File—this could be a slide deck, a PDF that describes an assignment, and so on
  • Link to a URL resource—this could be a video recording made use Kaltura Capture or another screen-capture recording program and hosted on MediaSpace, a link to an open-source resource or a website, and so on.
  • Organize lesson within a Book, on a Page or in a Folder—these give you options for different ways for displaying your lesson or elements of your lesson, and can be especially helpful in reducing clutter on your main cuLearn page.
  • Organize overall cuLearn page layout using the Course Format feature in “Edit Setting”—this feature will allow you to try out different displays for the various “blocks” on your page

Figures 4 & 5: “Edit Settings” and “Course Format” drop-down menus—different page layout options

Tools for assessing prior understanding and/or understanding of new content

cuLearn has a number of tools you can use to help you assess student understanding, either before or after an encounter with new content. Some of the most popular tools include:

  • The Assignment tool—ask students to complete some specific task, either on a file that they upload or via inline text (i.e., text written directly in the Assignment). Tasks could include writing a reflection, answering some specific question(s), thinking through a case study you provide, and so on. While these require manual grading, when it comes to weekly activities, you might want to grade using limited criteria (i.e., response follows instructions and provides evidence of engagement with the reading/lecture).
  • The Forum tool—ask your students to get involved in an asynchronous conversation online. Begin by providing a clear question and a set of instructions/expectations (i.e., post 1 response to the question, then reply to posts by 2 peers). While these also require manual grading, when it comes to weekly activities, you might want to grade using limited criteria (i.e., forum posts follow instructions and provide evidence of engagement with the reading/lecture).
  • The Quiz tool—ask your students to complete a small quiz, using any of the 17 question options available (including true/false, multiple-choice, matching, short answer, numerical, and many more). Most options allow for automatic grading.
    • For Quizzes that you set up for automatic grading, consider using the “Restrict Access” feature (under “Edit Setting” for every resource and activity in cuLearn) to set your course up so that students can’t progress to the next module element until they earn a score that you feel demonstrates they have attained some significant understanding of the content in question. This can be an especially powerful way to ensure that students are having a meaningful encounter with your content.

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