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The online learning environment may include two communication formats: synchronous and/or asynchronous. Below you will find a chart outlining the characteristics of these two forms of communication.
This type of communication in the online learning environment should be student-centered. Students choose the time and place that they will learn. It is facilitated by the use of online learning tools within Blackboard such as discussion boards as well as email, podcasts, or embedded media such as YouTube or streaming video. Below you will find information explaining each of these tools:
Blackboard (BB) – A course management system where students view assignments, tests, and messages or announcements from the instructor after logging on with their OSR account information. The screen shot below allows you to view the dashboard of Blackboard. You will see the courses that you are currently enrolled in on the right hand side of the page. The links to the tools on the left hand side of the page allow you to view grades and announcements or send emails.
Email – Each student who enrolls at Rend Lake College has a Warriormail account which can be used to contact instructors, email assignments, or participate in a group project. Further information about your Warriormail account can be found in Step 2. The screen shot below allows you to view the login page of Warriormail. You will use your OSR account information to log into this email.
Discussion Board – This tool allows class participants to post comments about assignments and group projects, or communicate with the instructor and students in the class. Completing discussion board assignments is often how you get participation points in online courses. Below is a screen shot of a discussion board within BB.
Podcasts – These are audio or video captures that can be created by the instructor or downloaded from other sources. This form of learning allows the user to hear or see a lesson being taught by the instructor or can contain material which will support the course. Click here to view a podcast.
Imbedded Media – Streaming video from online sources such as You Tube is used as a learning tool in many courses. Not only does the video capture enhance the course instruction but also provides auditory and visual learning.
This type of communication in online learning takes place when two or more individuals communicate simultaneously. Individuals are brought together in real-time and feedback is instantaneous. Tools that can be used in this form of communication are virtual classrooms, group projects, and chat.
Vitual Classroom – A virtual space that allows instructor and student to participate in real-time lessons and discussions. In this type of learning environment you cannot see the instructor or class memebers but you can hear them and view their presentation on a white board. Below is a screen shot of an Elluminate Live virtual classroom. The left hand column shows the participants in the classroom, the center column is the chat area, and the right hand side is the white board where the presentation will take place. Participants have the option of typing in the chat area or speaking through a microphone in order to participate in class discussion.
Group Projects – Instructors will often use this form of learning so that students interact with each other in the online world like they would in a physical classroom. In order to accomplish group projects, you will often need to use chat or the discussion board for communication and file sharing with the members of your group.
Chat – This form of synchronous learning allows instructors and students to communicate and share information in a real-time setting. The advantage of using chat is that course participants get immediate response to questions and comments.