Ben McCorkle, Ph.D.
How Are You Teaching?
SWITCH IT UP: Blending Synchronous and Asychronous Instruction
Courses teaching this spring:
- English 2463 (Introduction to Video Games Analysis)
- English 3662 (Introduction to Literary Publishing)
When OSU announced the move to remote course delivery this spring, Ben McCorkle’s first impulse was to simply replicate his existing course plans online in real time. As he began to reach out to his students, it didn’t take long for Dr. McCorkle, associate professor of English at OSU Marion, to realize that this strategy might not be effective, particularly for the heavily non-traditional student body at the Marion campus.
Dr. McCorkle explains “Many of my students have children that they need to care for. Many of them work, and in the wake of the state's COVID-19 response have been designated as essential employees or first responders. Some are having to assume caretaking duties for grandparents or, in one case, a sibling's toddlers. Even my traditional-aged students are encountering unexpected challenges: sharing bandwidth with an entire household, trying to find semi-private space from which to log in, accessing an increasing amount of online content on their smartphones”.
With these potential stressors in mind, Dr. McCorkle took advantage of the extra week of spring break to formulate what he calls “Plan B,” a strategy that would limit real time engagement and essentially act as a “flipped classroom.” He describes the plan below:
At the beginning of each week, I send out a class email (duplicated as an announcement in Carmen) that spells out expectations for the week: readings, responses to those readings, and work on their final project, which I've scaffolded so that there are smaller steps that build on one another.
Asynchronous check-ins, which work in both directions: I encourage students to email me with questions, concerns, etc., and I likewise try to touch base with students who might be falling behind, struggling, or silent.
Synchronous check-ins: our regular class schedule is now reserved for open office hours via Zoom. Students are welcome to drop in for questions, to get peer and instructor feedback on their final projects, and to connect with one another (even though it isn't tied to our curriculum, I think this last one is particularly important--students are eager to check in with one another, share experiences, and offer support)
This literature review "presents support for both types of interaction; however, findings indicate educators must consider time constraints, technological ability, and motivation for students to interact in the online setting. Recommendations for implementing both synchronous and asynchronous interactions are made, including technological considerations. Finally, suggestions for research in distance learning are presented for consideration."