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Descriptions of new kinds of processesthe process of learning, in this casebecome 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

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 thingsand once believed to be the only proper way to do things.

The Fourth Term: Nonlinear

The 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

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.


David L. Heiserman, Editor

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All Rights Reserved

Revised: June 06, 2015