Dr. Courtney LaLonde, Dr. Belma Sadikovic, and Dr. Mike Coquyt (Department of Leadership and Learning) gave their presentation, Inquiring Minds Want to Know: The Value of Adding Optional Synchronous Elements into Online Asynchronous Courses on Monday, June 22.

The session focused 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 examined 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 was shared with attendees.