Descriptions of new kinds of processes—the
process of learning, in this case—become
easier to understand when all parties agree upon a few
basic definitions from the outset. GED®
Prep & Beyond is indeed a new kind of process, and a
few basic definitions are in order.
The First Term: Synchronous
Synchronous is a term that is
applied to processes that take place in an orderly
and predictable manner. There is a time for
starting, a time for ending, and a time for all
steps between. Synchronous processes operate
according to the clock and calendar.'
Traditional schools operate
synchronously. There is a time and date when a
course begins, a sequence of times and dates for
each of the prescribed number of classes, and a time
and date for the last class.
Chances are quite good that you have
participated in a number of synchronous learning
processes. It's simply "the way things were done"
for more than a century.
The Second Term: Asynchronous
means non-synchronous. Asynchronous processes take
place without regard to clock and calendar.
There may or might not be prescribed starting and
ending dates, but the clock and calendar are not
part of all the activities in between.
Correspondence courses usually operate
asynchronously. Students work at their own
pace, when and where they can.
The Third Term: Linear
The term linear suggests a straight line
or path. A linear operation is one that
follows a straight path, one step at a time, from
from the first to the last.
Chapters in a printed textbook are arranged in a
linear fashion, from the first chapter to the last.
And in a traditional class, the teacher's lessons
are likewise arranged in a linear fashion, often
according to the textbook.
Linear operations and synchronous operations suit
one another quite nicely. It's the "orderly way" to
do things—and once
believed to be the only proper way to do things.
The Fourth Term: Nonlinear
term nonlinear the direct opposite of linear.
There are no straight paths. Before spaghetti
is cooked, it is linear. When it is ready to
eat, it is quite nonlinear. A nonlinear
operation isn't necessarily a random one, but it
does suggest that the plan can be rearranged
according to actual need and circumstances.
Nonlinear and asynchronous operations are well
suited for one another. In a nonlinear, asynchronous
learning environment, students can concentrate their
efforts on their own weaknesses and spend little or
no time with topics they've already mastered.
It was once believed that any operation
that was asynchronous and nonlinear was
inefficient, ineffective, and irresponsible.
The times have changed.
One More Term: Collaboration
means doing things together. A collaborative
effort is one where two or more people work together
to accomplish a common goal. It's related to teamwork.