Synchronous learning, which involves placing remote students on a video call, learning the same lesson at the same time as in-person students, is a teaching strategy many teachers would love to implement. However, before it can be successful, there are bugs to be worked out.
For one thing, the video and sound quality are usually poor. Teachers move around the room, and the microphone cannot always pick up what they are saying. This makes following along at home extremely difficult.
Many students do like the flexibility of a remote day. Most teachers post a simple check-in so that they can do attendance, and then they let the students do the work assigned on their own time. Synchronous learning deprives students of that freedom.
Students with self-esteem issues have a difficult time with synchronous learning. Showing one’s face on a video meet can be awkward, as the student struggles to find the least embarrassing background and angle.
There are issues as well for the in-person students. Depending on how the teacher angles the camera, those students are very visible in the video for their classmates at home. This makes them self-conscious, and some have difficulty focusing on the lesson at hand.
Another downside of this technological form of learning is the reduced class time if there is a technical error that the teacher has to address. And valuable learning time is lost when a teacher, in compliance with attendance-record requirements, has to count those who came to the video class.
While it may be a good idea to have cohorts A and B learn synchronously, without the proper technology or tools to make it more flexible, it may not be the best option for students.
Victoria Dolan is school correspondent for The Hull Times.