Synchronous learning has always been valued, and technology has always tried to empower this form of learning. But how would the world have survived if it wasn’t for technology and the internet during the pandemic? It is a fact that synchronous learning tools came into the limelight after the widespread prevalence of virtual synchronous learning.
How many times were we not able to hear what the teacher was saying in class, or how many times were we not able to see what was written on the blackboard? Virtual synchronous learning helped with that, but active learning during physical lectures, can and was helped by tools too!
Synchronous Learning, whether offline or online, overcomes all the obstacles presented by the asynchronous mode of education. So, the blog below discusses the supporting technology behind synchronous Learning.
Synchronous learning: The “real-time” education?
Learning in real-time implies getting hands-on experience with practical knowledge and developing strategies to understand them. Synchronous learning has been used interchangeably with real-time learning. And rightly so, synchronous learning includes both physical and virtual classrooms. In virtual classrooms, live interaction is made possible through technology, which allows it to qualify for real-time learning. Hence, synchronous learning involves learning happening in real-time, whether offline or online. This synchronous interaction over technology is crucial to the virtual learning format.
The transition to virtual synchronous learning took work, as many teachers struggled to adapt to technology, and students were getting accustomed to this new convenience. There have been instances of negligence both on the part of students, administration, and teachers; nevertheless, virtual synchronous learning has established itself as a reliable mode of education. And with a striving to modify and add new features, synchronous tools for both offline and online classes. have always supported this form of teaching.
Synchronous learning tools that are here to stay
Synchronous Learning is impossible without learning tools in an online format, but physical classrooms can also reap the benefits of technology. Hence, some intelligent learning tools for the newer generation wanting advanced technology-simulated education are given below.
1. Zoom – Web Conferencing
Zoom has been the favorite application of students and teachers during the pandemic when physical setups weren’t an option. Equipped with unique features, lecture schedule, session recording, team chat, online whiteboard, and calendar and email support, Zoom turned out to be a lifesaver. While it is a crucial office tool, zoom was equally relied on by companies and organizations for training, employee educational purposes, and daily online meetings. The app’s large capacity, however, gives an encrypted experience by helping the hosts recognize uninvited participants.
2. Google Classroom – Study Materials
While teaching happens through web conferencing and live streams, dispersing the study material was a concern before the pandemic. However, as synchronous Learning became more mainstream, Google Classroom picked up activity and became the teacher’s most preferred tool for maintaining a study material collection.
Google Classroom offers a top-notch organization for study materials, sample papers, and assignments alongside their deadlines. Through such a powerful medium, teachers can create different codes for different subjects and allow access to students. For students, Google Classroom can also be an online library consisting of video recordings and other materials and an app giving deadline updates. Even for physical settings, google classroom can save teachers from the hassle of managing hard copies of assignments, as well as, help students retrieve material on their gadgets during classes.
3. Google Hangouts/Chat – Live Chat
Google Hangouts is a platform enabling teachers and students to communicate through messages. The app can be accessed via Gmail and is helpful for an informal connection with everyone. Students can easily use the feature of screen sharing to prepare for group presentations or classroom assessments with classmates. The gen z factor, emojis, and stickers make it a fun app for students.
4. Microsoft Teams – Web Conferencing
Microsoft teams provide end-to-end support to teachers and students. It’s been a popular application amongst tutors and e-educators. However, the pandemic gave the application its due respect. Equipped with features like assignment tracking, screen sharing, whiteboard, hand raising, LMS integration, custom background, and the creation of separate teams for different subjects, the application turned out to be a one-stop solution for all teacher-student requirements. The utility of the Microsoft teams tool extends beyond the virtual classrooms, hence, teachers and students can access live classroom recordings, materials, and assignments, in the physical setting online.
Most reputed institutes and colleges entirely relied on Microsoft teams for their communication and evaluation needs. Like zoom, Microsoft teams helped teachers carry out the physical setting of group activities through breakout rooms, with access to each one of them, without involving the whole class.
5. Mettl – Proctored Evaluation
Learning could quickly occur with the abovementioned applications, but most institutes needed help with the assessment part. Even though answers could be mailed, supervising a fair examination for a large group of students was nearly impossible. Hence, Mettl, an application, emerged as an essential player on the scene and solved the problem of monitoring online exams. Mettl offers a proctored platform to an unlimited group of students while allowing the students to access questions easily, ensuring a user-friendly experience for both students and teachers. Moreover, Mettl has designed the application so that all kinds of tests can be delivered and given easily through the platform.
6. Kahoot – Live Quiz/Gaming
Kahoot is a synchronous learning that not many know about. Its features enable students to participate in a live quiz/game during both online and offline classes. The teacher can easily create the quiz with the help of the tools and each student can access them via their own gadgets. It is a fun tool that uses a game-based approach to convey information and helps in retention, as students can access materials whenever they want through feedback.
7. Wooclap – Presentation Tool
Good classroom presentations are the heart and soul of a good online lecture. While the software helps the teaching faculty to deliver top-notch presentations, it is a great tool for virtual synchronous learning too. Equipped with features like interactive questioning through polls, brainstorming, and quiz creator tools, Wooclap can also be easily integrated with Teams, Microsoft Office, and other software. Another reason why it’s a great asset to teachers is because of the instant learner feedback.
8. Google Forms – Evaluation Tool
Google forms are great survey tools but can also be conveniently used during virtual formative assessments. Answers on the Google forms can be in various formats, ranging from MCQ type, and short-answer type to extended answers. Combining Google forms with proctoring tools like Mettle, can create a perfect invigilated environment for end-semester exams or weekly evaluations. The forms also offer access to the collected answers in a very convenient manner.
Impact of synchronous learning tools: What does the research say?
As the world has shifted towards hybrid mode, synchronous Learning has become an important type of teaching, and the change is here to stay. The virtual format of synchronous Learning was new for most students, but for some, online teaching was their first-ever school memory. And even though these tools are a necessary pre-requisite for virtual classrooms, physical classrooms are not far away from employing them on a regular basis.
The cost reduction, increased engagement in physical classrooms, easy access, overcoming geographical barriers, and the capacity to accommodate large crowds were all possible because of the innovative synchronous learning tools. Of course, the synchronous learning tools solved many problems in the education system, but is there room for improvement? Absolutely!
A study by Clyde A.Wardena, James O.Stanworth, et al. suggested that even though students have accustomed themselves to the new virtual learning environment, classroom management and engagement must be targetted with improved software.
Synchronous learning tools have always been there to make education more digitized, but their potential was realized during the pandemic. Owing to the affordability and management of physical barriers, institutes consider virtual Learning a practical alternative to any time physical classes cannot happen. Nevertheless, both of them are essential and effective for student learning. Today, these synchronous learning tools help in both virtual and physical settings and have made learning convenient for teachers and students alike.