Embedding Asynchronous Learning in K-12 Districts
What tools support self-directed learning?
Very often, technology is the key to successful asynchronous learning. Educators need a platform where they can post lessons, and students need a secure online location to host discussions, ask questions, and find information.
“We were pretty much one-on-one before the pandemic and we were using Google Classroom,” says Matt Renwick, principal of Mineral Point Elementary School in Wisconsin. Elementary students at her school work on projects during independent learning time, then share their work with teachers, peers and family. “In the first year, they create a project, hold it and record themselves on video.”
Often with asynchronous learning, educators record videos that students can watch at their own pace. Class time is then used for discussion, further analysis and additional guidance from the teacher. To create instructional videos, educators need high-quality cameras and microphones and a stable internet connection. Google Classroom and other learning management systems provide a secure location for hosting videos.
Digital libraries and databases are also great tools that schools can develop as part of an asynchronous learning initiative. “A lot of students’ self-directed learning revolves around inquiry, especially at the elementary level when they’re researching a topic,” Renwick says. “They were very smart in using e-books and digital texts.”
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Schools looking to implement asynchronous options should start small to find out what works best for their classrooms.
“The idea originally came from Google, where employees have 20% of their time to just play around with ideas,” Renwick says. “Start very small. Don’t worry about spending 20% of your time – one day a week.
For younger pupils, such as Renwick Elementary Learners, he recommends implementing a short period of independent learning during the week, such as 30 minutes every Friday. For older students, educators can start with a single recorded lesson taught asynchronously before embarking on recording their entire curriculum.