4 Ways to Make Synchronous eLearning Dazzling

We’ll be back in the near future with more on our short series of social media tips. For now, let’s talk about synchronous eLearning.

Synchronous eLearning (Distance Learning) was a hot topic at 2011’s DevLearn conference. Today, I want to talk about how to actually design synchronous e-learning courses. There are many elements of course design that need to be taken into consideration for synchronous e-learning. However, here are just a few questions to consider:

1. Technology

  • Is there someone who can act as a “host” on the session and manage technical issues and questions?
  • Is the technology that we’re using stable and robust enough to allow for interaction?
  • Is the technology intuitive enough that it is a help and not a distraction to facilitators or participants?

2. Facilitators

  • Are the facilitators comfortable using the technology?
  • Can the facilitators offer feedback to participants on activities in real time?
  • Are facilitators willing to take the additional time needed to practice and prepare for a synchronous e-learning course?
  • Do facilitators have clear instructions on how to facilitate the activity? Below is an example of a duel facilitator guide we created for a client recently. In this situation, the course will be taught both face to face and online. Facilitators make the choice on how to facilitate based on their situation.

3. Participants 

  • Have participants been given enough time to practice using the technology?
  • Are participants given opportunities to interact with each other, not just with the facilitator?

4. Content

  • Have I avoided the temptation to make synchronous e-Learning more about lecture than exploration? While it can seem “easier” to take this route, in reality synchronous e-learning requires MORE interaction and opportunities to ensure that participants are engaged.
  • Is the course chunked into management bites? As much as possible, shorter modules are preferable in synchronous e-learning to avoid the dreaded multitasking of participants!
  • Is the course designer/writer familiar with the technology? Has she/he ensured that what is written is actually feasible?

What do you think of my list? What’s missing that you always consider when developing synchronous e-learning?