Inquiring Minds Want to Know: The Value of Adding Optional Synchronous Elements into Online Asynchronous Courses

Concurrent Session 6
Streamed Session Research

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Brief Abstract

How much do our efforts to include synchronous elements in online asynchronous courses matter to students?  This wondering provides the foundation for an action research study that utilizes The Inquiry Cycle (Dana, Thomas, and Boynton, 2011).  The value of including optional, real-time learning experiences in anytime courses is investigated. 


Dr. Courtney LaLonde earned her PhD in teaching and learning with a teacher education emphasis from the University of North Dakota. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of Curriculum & Instruction in the Department of Leadership and Learning at Minnesota State University Moorhead. In her present position, she teaches online graduate education courses. She is a former teacher of middle and secondary level Spanish and English learners, and also has experience teaching education foundations courses at the undergraduate level. Dr. LaLonde stays connected to PK-12 classroom practice through her work in mentoring novice teachers. Her most recent research focuses on teacher inquiry/action research, collaborative practices, and learning environments.

Extended Abstract

This session focuses on the value of including optional synchronous elements in asynchronous classes.  In traditional classroom settings, building relationships with students is the first step in creating a collaborative, student-centered learning environment.  Bridging the distance between virtual learners and instructors can be a challenge, especially in courses that are designed to be asynchronous in nature.  For that reason, synchronous elements tend to find their way into asynchronous courses.  Experiences such as real-time discussion sessions and virtual office hours provide students with opportunities to engage with each other and course instructors as they would in a traditional classroom setting.  The work that is done to incorporate synchronous elements into courses can leave instructors wondering how valuable those efforts actually are to students, along with the question of which experiences are most beneficial to student learning.  This wondering provides the basis for the action research study that will be presented. Through application of The Inquiry Cycle (Dana, Thomas, and Boynton, 2011), the action research study examines the value and benefit of weaving optional elements of synchronous courses into asynchronous design. Findings from an action research study involving data from three online asynchronous course instructors who teach multiple graduate education courses will be shared with attendees. 

Throughout the presentation portion of the session, attendees will process the steps of The Inquiry Cycle as the presenters discuss the conceptual framework of their study. Opportunities to develop ideas for potential action research studies will be included in the presentation. Attendees will also engage in developing wonderings of their own that can be used to frame potential future inquiries.  Following the presentation of the study framework and findings, attendees will participate in individual reflection along with a group Q&A session (facilitated by the presenters) that will utilize Padlet.