Leveraging Asynchronous Design to Explore Issues of Equity in Education

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Brief Abstract

In this session, the presenters will introduce a collaborative design approach for asynchronous learning that highlights creativity, engagement, and faculty presence throughout each module. The presenters will share a use case to draw on their experience and research with/in asynchronous design to leverage the affordances of this modality.


Minh Le is currently Principal Instructional Designer, working at Digital Futures Institute (DFI) of Teachers College, Columbia University where he is leading various initiatives to materialize the institute’s mission 'to support digital innovation and build the future of learning within and beyond Teachers College.' As part of his professional and personal interest, he has been constantly seeking new possibilities of and experimenting with technology and media to create highly interactive and engaging learning content and experience. He especially enjoys being a thought partner to help faculty brainstorm novel pedagogy and consulting faculty on how to utilize cutting-edge educational technology and multimedia effectively and purposefully to reimagine learning in the digital world.

Extended Abstract

Title: Leveraging Asynchronous Design to Explore Issues of Equity in Education


In March 2020, our college was among the first institutions of higher education to abruptly shut down campus and shift to online learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This decision led to the majority of classes being conducted synchronously using the video conferencing software Zoom. The first few weeks of using this format presented numerous challenges causing many faculty and students to vocalize the barriers associated with synchronous learning. These challenges presented an opportunity for faculty and course design instructors to think divergently about online teaching as a means to address emerging issues that were impacting the needs of students.  In this presentation, an Associate Professor of Education and a Principal Instructional Designer at an urban institution of higher education will share how their collaborative design experience during the COVID-19 pandemic created a model for pedagogical innovation that could be used to inform asynchronous online courses at the College. 

In this session, the presenters will introduce a framework for collaborative design that is informed by ADDIE (Branson, 1978), TPACK (Mishra & Kohler, 2006), and Speculative Design (Willis & Anderson, 2013) to engage participants in a discussion about the challenges and affordances of asynchronous course design. They will also share a use case and offer questions and recommendations for administrators and faculty to consider in their efforts to cultivate a student-centered learning environment that promotes a culture of innovation.

Purpose of presentation

The goal of this presentation is to demonstrate the pedagogical affordances of the collaborative process the we used to design an engaging asynchronous course that focused on equity in K-12 education. We will highlight resources and tools we developed along with apps and platforms we integrated into the course to create an asynchronous experience that went beyond the discussion forum and downloadable, voice-over PowerPoint. We will 1) present information about the educational landscape that necessitated the creation of the course; 2) invite the audience to share thoughts and insights about their experiences developing asynchronous online courses; 3) provide an opportunity to explore portions of the course; and 4) share guiding questions to support and enhance their asynchronous programming. 

Collaborative Framework to Support Pedagogical Innovation

Reimagining in-person courses for remote emergency education was a difficult endeavor. Faculty at our college struggled with synchronous online teaching while navigating issues related to digital infrastructure, student concerns about privacy, teaching across multiple time-zones, engagement, and content creation. As a result, asynchronous learning began to gain traction because it provided flexibility for students to access content and accommodated the type of autonomy many students were requesting. Although asynchronous learning has been around for a while, the majority of faculty at our institution had no pedagogical experience with this format and quickly began to encounter a different set of issues related to low student engagement, lack of interaction with students, and providing meaningful feedback. To address these challenges, our team developed a collaborative design process that complements our collective knowledge and experience in technology, content, and pedagogy.

Our design process is informed and adapted from the ADDIE Instructional Design Method (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation). We began the project with an initial meeting where we share and discuss learning topics, objectives as well as pedagogical vision. Next, we have a few follow up meetings to continue the ideation process and to share any artifacts we generated to visualize the project. Then, we create an outline of all the learning experiences with a title, short description, and supporting media in a design document.  Next, we start designing a prototype for the interface which can be in Canvas or in another learning platform. To conclude, we publish the module on Canvas for students to access and provide technical support for students and faculty if necessary. After the course concludes, we take a look at course evaluation and student reflection for feedback to evaluate and reiterate the design next time the course is offered.

During the presentation we will share a use case from a graduate-level asynchronous capstone course to demonstrate our work process and asynchronous learning design approach. The goal of the course was to support students learning about equity in K-12 education with essential knowledge and skills to develop an action research project focused on a problem of practice in their learning community. Our process used a systematic approach to manage multiple aspects within the life cycle of an instructional design project. It also leveraged resources and expertise from various stakeholders in our college such as learning designers, media developers, and technologists.  The design process attended to interactive resources, assessment of student learning, and providing a flexible environment that aligned with the affordances of the asynchronous learning. 

Strategies for Engaging the Audience 

The presentation will offer three opportunities for the audience to engage with the content and speakers. The presenters will begin the session with an overview of the educational landscape that supported the development of the asynchronous course. Next, they will engage the audience using an interactive tool (Mentimeter) to gather ideas about the affordances and challenges of asynchronous learning based on their experiences with the format. Then, the presenters will share their collaborative framework as they provide an overview of the course. After the overview, the presenters will invite the audience to explore three aspects of the course that highlight instructor presence, student engagement, and community building through the use of a [QR code]. At the completion of that experience, the presenters will engage the participants in a discussion about their observation, questions, and take aways using the chat or raise hand feature on the presentation platform. To conclude, the presenters will share questions that remain after the experience and recommendations for engaging in this work in other settings. 



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Educational Technology, March, 11-14. 

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A

framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers college record108(6), 1017-1054.

Molenda, M. (2003). In search of the elusive ADDIE model. Performance improvement, 42(5),


Willis, H., & Anderson, S. (2013). Speculative design and Curriculum development: Using

worldbuilding to imagine a new major in a post-course era. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 5(2), 4.