While Zoom was the “it” word during the pivot to online learning throughout COVID-19, it is high time to consider alternatives to synchronous online classes that benefit student learning. After all, “Zoom fatigue” has real effects on cognitive processing (Waldbieser, 2021). While people will still be Zooming for some time, taking time to create, produce, and implement asynchronous videos or asynchronous video assignments for your online class can yield multiple benefits.
Asynchronous videos get an A
One of the main benefits of using asynchronous videos in your online class is that the videos provide a sense of intimacy in the classroom which leads to increased instructor presence. Online classes tend to have higher attrition rates than face-to-face instruction, so instructors need to cultivate a sense of “connectedness and decreased feelings of isolation among online learners” (Collins et al., 2020, p. 53). Students can interact with one another through asynchronous video assignments. Instructors can create prompts in programs, such as VoiceThread and Flipgrid, that require students to interact through asynchronous videos.
According to Lear et al.’s (2010) online environment interactivity/community-process model, student engagement increases when students interact and feel like a part of a learning community. Similarly, social interaction leads to knowledge construction via the community of inquiry framework (Garrison et al., 2000). Both frameworks stress that interaction within a learning community leads to co-construction of knowledge.
Asynchronous video assignments provide a means for student-student interaction in which individuals do not need to coordinate meeting times. Flexibility is especially beneficial for adult students located across multiple time zones. Furthermore, asynchronous videos allow for “improved collaboration and sense of ‘trust’ of group members” (West, 2021, p. 4). Introverted students, who often disengage during synchronous meetings, can take as much time as necessary to create content or reply to their classmates. In fact, asynchronous videos allow all students time to reflect before interacting (Lowenthal et al., 2020, p. 368).
Asynchronous videos can also increase instructor-student interactions and instructor social presence (Collins et al., 2019). One way that this is done is when instructors record videos to leave feedback on student work. This is especially useful when instructors can screencast and point to places in a student’s submission that the feedback is based on (Lowenthal et al., 2020; Martin & Bollinger, 2018).
Instructors can also increase their social presence in online classes by recording brief, informal video announcements to:
- summarize recent discussions or coursework
- provide answers to common questions
- raise common issues
- give encouragement
- remind students of upcoming projects or deadlines
If done consistently, these weekly update videos can become a regular part of the week’s tasks for online students. Students also get regular exposure to the instructor and get to see their personality. In their survey-based study, Martin and Bollinger (2018) found that online students prefer regular announcements from their instructors.
Tips for creating asynchronous videos
Creating asynchronous videos for your online class does not have to be a big production. Instructors only need a smart phone and learning objectives to start preparing for recording.
Castillo et al. (2021) provide a comprehensive guide and workflow for creating asynchronous videos for your class. While there are many factors to consider, starting off with a purpose, a script, a microphone, and lighting is a great start!
First, instructors need to decide on the purpose of their video to decide what type of video to record. For instance, if you want to use slides with pictures to reinforce learning about a topic, you may want to create a screencast or “talking head” video. On the contrary, if you want to invite a guest speaker, you might want to follow the interview recording protocol. (Interviews are also a good way to break up the number of lecture videos used in online classes.)
Once you decide on your purpose, you should come up with a script for your video. You do not have to write down everything word-for-word; however, if you do so, it will be easier to use a teleprompter. In addition to free website offerings, such as https://cueprompter.com/, there are a few apps that allow you to turn your phone or computer into a teleprompter. Having a script also makes it easier to create a transcript with video to post along with the uploaded recording. Try not to read from the script, if possible, to sound more natural and engaging in your recording.
Castillo et al. (2021) claim that it is better to create a lower-quality video with good sound than a video with all the bells and whistles that is hard to hear. There are several affordable microphones available at a low cost—the most common being USB microphones or lapel mics. Reducing background noise can give better quality audio recordings. Stay away from the refrigerator or other household appliances and consider recording in a closet if your face is not on screen.
When lighting your video, consistency is key. Use natural light if you do not have a budget for lighting. If you have a glow light or some other lighting setup, be sure that the light is behind the phone or camera that you are using.
Recording asynchronous videos does not have to be a big production!
Finally, once you have recorded your video, you can add special features using websites like Canva or Camtasia or other video editing software.
Because of the time and effort required for asynchronous video production, videos should be kept short. Additionally, shorter videos will be less likely to overwhelm students’ short-term memories and will be a helpful learning product for use in future iterations of your course.
Kimberly Rehak is an instructional designer at the University of Pittsburgh’s College of General Studies. Rehak is also a doctorate of education candidate in the Curriculum and Instruction Program at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Rehak’s research interests are curriculum development and evaluation and inclusive instructional design, and has taught the English language to adults for 20 years, while also working as a foreign language test developer.
Castillo, Calvitti, K., Shoup, J., Rice, M., Lubbock, H., & Oliver, K. H. (2021). Production processes for creating educational videos. CBE Life Sciences Education, 20(2), 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.20-06-0120
Collins, K., Groff, S., Mathena, C., & Kupczynski, L. (2019). Asynchronous video and the development of instructor social presence and student engagement. The Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 20(1), 53–70. https://doi.org/10.17718/tojde.522378
Garrison, D., Anderson, T. & Archer, W. (2010). The first decade of the community of inquiry framework: A retrospective. Internet and Higher Education, 13(1-2), 5-9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2009.10.003
Lear, J., Ansorge, C. Y Steckelberg, A. (2010). Interactivity/community process model for the online education environment. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 6(1), 71-77.
Lowenthal, P., Borup, J., West, R. E., & Archambault, L. (2020). Thinking beyond Zoom: Using asynchronous video to maintain connection and engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 28(2), 161–169.
Martin, F. & Bollinger, D. (2018). Engagement matters: Student perceptions on the importance of engagement strategies in the online learning environment. Online Learning, 22(1), 205-222.
Waldbieser, J. (2021). Science just confirmed what you already knew: Zoom fatigue is real. Atlassian. https://www.atlassian.com/blog/teamwork/science-just-confirmed-what-you-already-knew-zoom-fatigue-is-real
West, R. E. (2021). Understanding how asynchronous video can be critical to learning success. In R. E. West & J. Borup (Eds.), Teaching With Asynchronous Video. EdTech Books. https://edtechbooks.org/asynchronous_video/unbounded_by_time