Online Learning Definitions

Access transcript via the “CC” button on the player, or follow the enhanced transcript of this lecture below.


Hello. My name is Lynda. I’m a visual artist, a teaching artist and a Creative Aging trainer for Lifetime Arts.

In this lesson, we will define two main principles to consider when defining or delivering online Creative Aging programs for older adults. Understanding these terms will help you to design the best program for your students.

Synchronous Learning (00:25)

Teaching artist, Peyton Scott Russell, instructs a group of participants during a graffiti program held at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) in Minneapolis, MN. Credit: MIA
Teaching artist, Peyton Scott Russell, instructs a group of participants during a graffiti program held at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) in Minneapolis, MN. Credit: MIA

Synchronous learning requires that students meet at a set time every week in a live class-like setting often via video conference or telephone. Synchronous class sessions can be compared to an in-person program model where students meet in person once a week in most cases.
Sometimes, an organization might choose to run online synchronous class sessions every day, rather than weekly, but over a tighter timeline like one or two weeks.

The idea is that the creative aging program is held over a series of classes, where there was a scheduled meeting time that the students agreed to attend as a group. Often during synchronous classes, students might hear instructions from a teaching artist about a skill they’re working on, share their work with one another or discuss a resource.

Remote Program Adaptation Example (01:14)

A participant attends a session of the program, “Staged Stories,” via Zoom, taught by Debra Pasquerette and held at the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, CA. Credit: Debra Pasquerette

Debra Pasquerette, Manager of Community Engagement for the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, California, is also the teaching artist of staged stories, a storytelling and memoir writing class. They were preparing for their culminating event when all of the in-person classes were canceled due to COVID-19.

Debra designed a new extended curriculum that stretched well beyond the original eight-week series. The students continued to meet every week for two hours via Zoom video conference. This is not the norm of what we heard for most organizations and artists. Most tended to shorten classes when moving online. However, Debra was responding to the students’ express need to connect to one another during this challenging time.

Adapting an In-Person Program to Online (02:02)

They were already meeting in person, so it had a pre-established community in place. They shared writing assignments, many focused on life in the strange and difficult time, utilize writing prompts, read their work aloud, and gave feedback to one another.

Additionally, Debra opened up the video conference early, so people could log on before class and enjoying unstructured time with one another.

Positive Takeaways (02:27)

Ultimately, this group of students still continue to meet and work on their storytelling skills every week. However, they’ve also jointly decided to hold off on a formal culminating event until they can plan something that’s in-person. This is a well-connected group of students who work in partnership with Debra, so that she can really accommodate their preferences.

She has had the support of the Wallis Annenberg organization to adapt the previous in-person model in a way that she found works for her students. As you can see, student input has actually had a great influence on the design of the program.

Remote Program Considerations (03:08)

However, there is something to consider. Moving an ongoing in-person program to an online format may present less challenges to starting a brand new program because you really connect to students about their specific desires for the class the way that Debra was able to do. The question then becomes, for new programs, how do you gather student preferences regarding artform, program structure, and schedule to best meet the needs of your students?

Asynchronous Learning (03:39)

Asynchronous learning consists of activities students complete on their own time. Some examples are watching a video to demonstrate an artform or going on a virtual museum tour. Other ideas include reading an article or a poem or working on an assignment independently, outside of synchronous class time to extend learning. However, there are many asynchronous art classes that are available on the internet. It is possible to learn art skills solely through asynchronous videos and resources, and have no group classes meetings through synchronous scheduling.

Asynchronous Learning Consideration (04:16)

It’s important to note that social engagement opportunities may be harder to support in asynchronous activities. Asynchronous techniques may not support the chance for students to connect with each other through the artmaking. We will go further into recommendations to address this elsewhere in the course.

For more information about the program, “Staged Stories,” read our blog post, “Online Storytelling Class at The Wallis Retains Intimacy of In-person Workshop.”

Each section of Creative Aging Foundations features worksheets for your own use when planning creative aging programming and writing grants for program funding. A complete set of Creative Aging Foundations worksheets will provide you with a shortcut to an organizational strategy to better serve older adults through anti-ageist approaches, best practices, and key insights on program funding and sustainability.

Access the worksheet for this topic:

Section 6 Worksheet: Remote Programming Challenges and Opportunities (PDF)

Review the selected resource for this topic:

Online Storytelling Class at The Wallis Retains Intimacy of In-person Workshop