Teaching the Future – Synchronous and Asynchronous Online Learning

I know, the title’s a mouthful, and not the usual fare of my posts here.

But… as a lot of the world is turning to online education, I thought I’d share some resources and links, as well as my own slides from the excellent “Speculative Futures of Education” symposium my colleague Dr. Nalo Hopkinson organized last December at University of California, Riverside.

I’ve taught writing online and via pen & paper correspondence since my first years as an instructor at Johns Hopkins Center For Talented Youth back in the previous millennium, throughout my time in other industries (including developing online learning games and technologies), and now as the Director of the Genre Fiction MFA Concentration at Western Colorado University, a low-residency masters’ program that takes place alongside masters programs in screenwriting, nature writing, and poetry under Western’s School of Graduate Studies.

Although I’ve wanted to write up my thoughts about the symposium for a while, I hadn’t found the time to do it… and it seems like now is a really good time to at least share some bigger pieces of what was discussed.

When Professor Hopkinson asked me to come to UC Riverside, I chose to speak about the challenges and benefits of online education in the future — specifically synchronous and asynchronous learning, student-centered teaching, accessibility, and technology bloat (ever-increasing niche software that works less well than simpler tools).

In doing so, I gained the opportunity to listen to brilliant talks about technology and narrative by keynote speaker Dr. Gerry Canavan (Marquette University), and my fellow panelists Sanaa Khan (UCSD), Claire Stanford (UCLA), Jeanelle Horcasitas (UCSD), Olivia Quintanilla (UCSD), and Dr. William Huber (Abertay U.). Our panel (Tech Narratives) was followed by (among many others) presentations on the history and future of creative writing workshops (by the brilliant Rachelle Cruz [UCR]), Comic Arts Scholarship and Teaching (by R. Alan Brooks (Regis) and Dr. Cathy Thomas (UCR), and Jessica Calvanico (UCSC), and the future of education in China by Dr. Yao Wang (UCR, also known as author Fei Tang). I tell you this not to landslide you with names, but to give you an idea of how prescient — without our knowing it — this symposium was, and to suggest that you should look into the work all of the program participants are engaged in, as it is fascinating and forward-thinking. (Thank you again, Drs. Hopkinson and Thomas, and Nicole Furtado, for organizing it. I hope there are more of these in the future.)

Below, you’ll find the slides from my wonkily-titled talk “Peer to Peer and Face to Face” below, a downloadable PDF. I’m happy to talk further about questions regarding online learning — and why it’s great for hybrid work that is synchronous (face to face) and asynchronous (work done solo)… as well as timezone crossing and region hopping. I’ll encourage you again to check out the links and bios of the symposium presenters if you’re thinking about the future of education in your own communities.

Before I do, I’m also linking to several online education resources that have crossed my path recently (I’ll keep adding to these — drop your favorite resources in the comments):

So, from the symposium, here are some of my guidelines and thoughts about online learning now, and for the future.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Peer to Peer and Face to Face

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s