What are the tools that support independent learning?
Often, technology is the key to success with asynchronous learning. Teachers should have a platform where they can publish lessons, and students should have a safe online space to conduct discussions, ask questions, and find information.
“We were about one-on-one before the pandemic, and we used Google Classroom,” says Matt Renwick, principal of Mineral Point Elementary School in Wisconsin. Her elementary school students work on projects during their independent study time and then share their work with teachers, peers, and family. “In first grade, they create a project and keep it and record it on video.”
Often with asynchronous learning, teachers record videos that students can watch on their own time. The lesson time is then used by the teacher for discussion, in-depth analysis, and additional guidance. To create instructional videos, teachers must have high-quality cameras and microphones and a stable Internet connection. Google Classroom and other learning management systems provide a secure location for video placement.
Digital libraries and databases are also higher tools for schools as part of an asynchronous learning initiative. “A lot of student self-study revolves around research, especially at the elementary level when researching a topic,” Renwick says. “They were really smart in using e-books and digital texts.”
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Schools that want to implement asynchronous options should start small to understand what is best for their classrooms.
“The idea originally came from Google, where employees spend 20 percent of their time just playing with ideas,” Renwick says. “Start small really. Don’t worry about actually spending 20 percent of your time – one day a week.”
For younger students, such as Renwick’s elementary school students, he recommends taking a short period of independent study during the week, such as 30 minutes each Friday. For older students, teachers can be taught with a recorded and asynchronous lesson before they move on to recording the entire curriculum.