Back to the Classics

To teach, to learn, to change

Defining terms

There are a couple of things I need to clarify before I lay out the next few things on my mind. One of the big issues I’ve run into in deciding how to implement the Academy is whether or not to hold classes in real time. From my software background, I refer to this as synchronous and asynchronous (or async for short). Synchronous actions take place at the same time – a traditional classroom is a synchronous method. Async methods take place at different times; a book is the perfect example of an async teaching method, with the writing and the reading happening separately.

For teaching, there are advantages to each, especially for an online system like what I’m aiming for. Synchronous approaches, like video conferences or chat rooms, allow for personalized teaching and interaction. Teachers can answer questions, hold group discussions, or change approaches depending on how well students seem to be understanding what’s being taught. Asynch methods, such as recorded lectures or textbooks, are much more time and cost efficient. Students can pursue them at their own pace (especially if lectures have a speed control, which I loved when I was at university) and on their own schedule. Also, since the material only needs to be created once and then updated periodically, it costs a lot less to produce and maintain.

How those trade offs balance is going to be a major factor for what gets taught and how and to whom.

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