Classroom Sessions

Why Synchronous Learning Is the Latest Thing in eLearning

Maidenhead (UK), August 2021 - How do the latest learning management systems allow for eLearning to blend in with the classroom? When educationalists talk about synchronous learning, they generally are referring to a classroom event during which the tutor will display information to the group, and the learning is experienced together. This leads to group exercises, teacher feedback, and all the good things that come from people interacting in a learning setting. "You can't just learn from books" is the age old mantra.

This contrasts with the traditional view of eLearning which is seen very much as a solitary pursuit. The students, alone in front of the screen, hammer through the eLearning until they pass the quiz at the end. For the learner there is no chance of interaction with the tutor or fellow students, no opportunity for questions or to question the learning material. It is a closed door exercise in which the digestion of facts is the only end goal.

Yet the pandemic has seen the education landscape change, and lessons are increasingly moving online. Teams, Zoom, and Google Chat are common media for conducting one-to-one and group lessons. This means that live classroom sessions (synchronous learning) are now held online in the same medium as eLearning (asynchronous learning). In the last few years, this has given the learning industry a unique opportunity to blend these two types of delivery mechanisms together, extracting the best from each approach to produce an improved learning experience.

Conducting eLearning in an online group session allows the teachers or trainers to go through the learning content, supplementing the messaging with their own commentary, answering questions, and stimulating discussion amongst the group. Modern learning management systems, such as Open eLMS with the Open eLMS Classroom add-on, allows learners to attend lessons in this way and have learning tracked on their accounts that was led by the instructor.

Open eLMS Classroom is a smart classroom system that enables teachers to add a wide array of electronic learning resources into their lessons. In addition to eLearning, media such as interactive videos, ebooks, quizzes, and microlearning objects (from H5P) can all transform a traditional chalk-and-talk experience.

Once a lesson has been created, it can be stored in the Learning Library for further use at any time. Lessons can then be developed over time, customised for different audiences, and shared amongst peers.

Instructors can set up lessons in their calendar that will automatically remind learners of start times (particularly relevant if the smart classroom is online). Curriculum developers can even set up lessons for a group of instructors at the same time. Open eLMS will then send email alerts when lessons are due.

Lessons that are supplemented by whiteboards and discussion forums can be delivered in a classroom or online. The trainer has complete control, with a live gradebook to monitor learning and performance in real time.

A major advantage of the sharing of resources is that students can then revisit any of the learning in their own time. What was originally "synchronous" lives on as asynchronous learning resources. eLearning, videos, books etc., and even a video recording of the lesson itself can be revisited at each student's leisure; no student should ever need to get left behind. Open eLMS achieves this using its video-on-demand style interface, making recapping on education and training as easy as accessing Netflix.

Within the system, students can call up any lesson they have attended and watch the lesson again. The white board can be accessed and notes reviewed. eLearning can be re-opened and videos played again. Students can even post queries on each lesson's discussion board, and fellow students can help each other out or escalate an issue to the instructor.

This a step change improvement, as any classroom lesson does not need to end when the teacher or trainer leaves the room. Interactions, learning resources, and the lesson itself can continue for each student's learning lifetime. Information builds up on the learner's eportfolio across all learning, badges can be won, and learning material can be packaged at the end of the training experience and be taken by students to their next learning destination.