Online synchronous learning and other digital tools are transforming the teaching and learning landscape for teachers, parents and students. From learning management systems to mobile apps, the K-12 learning community is more connected than ever. In fact, more teachers are implementing blended learning than ever before, and administrators are supporting this shift:
- 1 out of 3 teachers started describing their classrooms as a blended learning environment in the last year (Project Tomorrow, 2014).
- Over 2/3 of school administrators believe that keeping students engaged in school is a top benefit of digital learning (Project Tomorrow, 2014).
Furthermore, districts are generally doing a great job of embracing asynchronous forms of blended learning, but synchronous learning tools can often times go under utilized. Whether it’s on-the-go professional development for teachers or personalized learning for students, collaboration tools provide a way for the K-12 community to embark on a synchronous learning journey that can lead to teacher and student success.
Key takeaways of synchronous learning
Synchronous learning tools enable districts to:
1) Offer on-the-go professional development. Two out of three (65%) district administrators believe that enhancing teacher effectiveness through professional development has the greatest potential to enhance student achievement (Project Tomorrow, 2014). After their digital and synchronous professional development experience, 83% of Metro Nashville Public School teachers reported greater comfort with and a greater willingness to integrate technology within their own classrooms.
2) Provide anytime, anywhere connectivity. Synchronous learning can occur even if there is inclement weather, a student is homebound, or a parent can’t make a conference.
3) Embrace flipped learning. Synchronous learning tools allow teachers to record live sessions to create flipped learning content and students to watch recorded lessons at their own pace.
4) Engage learners on their devices. With the rise of mobile, synchronous collaboration needs to be offered where students already are – on their mobile devices. 82% of high school students and 68% of middle school students have access to smartphones (Project Tomorrow, 2014).
5) Maximize personalized learning. Synchronous learning allows students to choose how they want to engage with teachers and classmates through, web conferencing, video conferencing, voice, or collaborative work sessions.