With online courses still widely available, it is crucial to know the differences between each type.. For example, some courses are synchronous or asynchronous, whilst others are blended learning solutions or hybrid learning solutions. So, what does it all mean? What are hybrid e-learning solutions and how do you choose which course is best for you? Every type has its own pros and cons. Here is a comprehensive guide to online courses and all the differences between them.
While hybrid courses may seem confusing, blended learning is very simple and usually agreed upon in its definition. Simply put, blended learning incorporates online and in-person learning. For example, many college classrooms utilize blended learning by having in-person seminars and online discussion boards. Students typically have to post on the discussion board after class, and participate with fellow classmates. So, blended learning solutions have been around for quite some time, and are often utilized in order to better reinforce the learning material that was covered in class.
Though blended learning incorporates online aspects, it still requires an in-person classroom and thus, is primarily taught in-person. It is required to have a physical, central location in which students will gather, unlike other online options. Nevertheless, blended learning classrooms are great for offering students a variety of tools for their learning experience. Even if all that’s implemented is a discussion board, it increases communication and invites students to think beyond the textbook.
Hybrid learning solutions can be a bit more difficult to truly pin down. This is because classrooms can vary in their definitions, and so, one might not be identical to the other. It is essential to check your class syllabus beforehand in order to know what to expect. However, it is not impossible to define a hybrid learning environment. While a blended learning classroom primarily is in-person, hybrid is a little…different. Hybrid classrooms actually give students the option to be in the classroom.
In other words, they can choose to attend in-person, or can “phone in” using Zoom on a computer. This is all happening at the same time, and the lesson is occurring in one place: the classroom. In this example, the teacher would be hosting class to each student, whether they are online or not. Hybrid learning does not always include a supplemental online aspect, although it can have online materials and activities depending on the teacher.
Despite being different, hybrid learning classrooms are notable for their incredible accessibility. Whether it’s due to chronic health conditions, transportation setbacks, or locational barriers, hybrid learning allows for every student to participate, regardless of extenuating circumstances. For educators, hybrid classrooms can be considered somewhat challenging, as it is a lot of different balls to juggle. However, it should be noted that the accessibility it offers is truly a wonderful benefit and can be often considered in situations when appropriate, such as in times of awful weather or with students who have chronic illnesses.
Whereas hybrid and blended classrooms can sometimes differ, asynchronous and synchronous classes are much more clear and rarely vary in meaning. Classes that are asynchronous don’t have a central meeting time, and are almost always completely online courses. Instead, they usually have the course’s entire deadlines, assignments, and tests all up and available. Asynchronous classes are amazing options for students with a strong sense of discipline, who are eager to learn. In addition, asynchronous classes are also great for the busy student. If you have work, an internship, or just a lot of familial responsibilities, asynchronous classes can be completed anytime and anywhere. The classes can be completed as quickly as possible, or done at the last possible moment before the deadline (not recommended).
Of course, these classes can have some drawbacks, in that being completely self-guided, they can also be somewhat lonely. In my experience, some of my toughest classes both in high school and college were those that I had taken completely online. With only myself and my online classmates for support, it was hard to feel like there was a community. Later on, I realized this wasn’t the most conducive class style to take, unless it was a topic that compelled me completely. However, for students that don’t mind the individual learning style, it can be a wonderful option to further their studies privately, or one-on-one with an online instructor.
Synchronous classes are much more scheduled than an asynchronous class. In fact, synchronous classes offer a key difference: there is a live instructor that students meet with online for class, at an established time. Typically, the deadlines are also the same– the entire classroom moves at the same pace. There isn’t as much space to move ahead. Synchronous, online classes are much more similar to a traditional in-person classroom setting. Classrooms can vary. Although, unless it’s a lecture, students will have opportunities to share and discuss topics in real time.
Though synchronous classes may not offer the same freedoms as asynchronous classes, they offer a strong foundation of support and connection virtually. This is a great in-between option for students who have time and may require or enjoy more social interactions during their lessons.
Blended learning classrooms, by their nature, are inherently synchronous. While some aspects could be asynchronous in that they can be completed whenever, this is usually not the case. Since the class itself is cemented and occurring in a physical classroom at a fixed time, it is synchronous. As for hybrid learning classrooms, while they may vary in rules or activities, they are also synchronous.
Asynchronous classes can be defined and realized by their lack of central meeting times altogether.. So long as the assignments are completed by the deadline, all is well. Remember, asynchronous classes typically do not have real-time participation, unless it involves meeting with a teacher one-on-one.
Overall, there are a wealth of options when it comes to online learning classrooms and styles. The difference between blended and hybrid learning is all about social participation, time management, and again, learning styles. What is best for each individual student will vary and a plethora of things. In other words, it is all dependent on your learning style and availability. If you enjoy an independent approach to learning, consider an asynchronous hybrid learning approach. But if you find yourself struggling with deadlines, get bored without others around you, and easily lost in material, a synchronous, blended learning class might be the best for you. Regardless, there are options for every student out there.
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