Course Delivery: Asynchronous Material in STEM

In the STEM disciplines, faculty have access to a huge amount of asynchronous material. Filter this carefully and be mindful that you don’t overload students. Clearly connect asynchronous material to learning outcomes to help students understand why it is important. Emphasize to students that while they are learning independently, they are not learning alone. The faculty and other students are part of the learning experience. 

  • Use videos, lecture slides, and textbook ancillaries for asynchronous material. Consider doing voice-overs for the lecture slides, so that students can hear your voice and have access to your interpretation of the material;
  • Develop common, shared asynchronous material for multi-section courses. As appropriate, make some of this material available for the next-level course, in case students need to review topics;
  • You may want to produce videos of your lectures for students to watch online. If so, consider breaking them into small (10 – 15 minute) pieces, organized by topic. This helps students pace themselves and stay focused on the topic. Ask students to submit examples or brief reflections on the lectures in order to test their understanding;
  • Help students make the connections between synchronous and asynchronous material. Don’t assume that it all fits together for them. Students who are unused to learning online may have difficulty with time management. Offer cues and suggestions for organization and develop work patterns for your course that help them stay on track;
  • Give students an estimate of how much time they should be spending on the asynchronous material. This will help them with time management. If they spend more or less time on the material, ask them to reflect on this;
  • If you are using any special software, give students time to test it and to troubleshoot. Consider incorporating this into a pre-course assignment.

Fordham Example 
Faculty in the Natural Sciences Department were already experimenting with a flipped classroom approach when the pandemic hit in the spring. They made videos of lectures and focused the in-class time on problem solving. This allowed the faculty to challenge students with more difficult problems (students tend to just attempt the easy questions). They also developed an active blog for students to ask questions and get guidance.