|Asynchronous-Synchronous-Semi-Synchronous: Deliberate Design Across Modes of Time|
My institution is a small (~4,500) public liberal arts campus with vibrant on-ground and online degree offerings at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. While we have an active, but small, resident population, the majority of our students are transfer and graduate students with diverse needs for flexible instruction. Pre-pandemic we offered two ways of conceiving of time: synchronous (in person) and asynchronous (online) with very few online courses requiring synchronous interaction. COVID has offered new modes of conceptualizing time in the classroom. Several of my Middle East history courses are offered at the lower-division level for general education credit, serving students who need the structure of in-class engagement, but recognizing that all of us would be burned out by fully synchronous learning through Zoom-style work. Enter “semi-synchronous” design, which divided weekly classes into asynchronous lectures and course prep materials and synchronous class meetings for group work, discussions, and project planning. Remote teaching forced me to compartmentalize lectures from in-class activities that could be frustrating, but also required more forethought in designing and implementing remote group work and led to exciting examples of effective student collaboration. A question that remains to be answered is: when the pandemic is over, what aspects of this time/space shift will translate in classroom experiences of the future?