Student Perceptions and Learning Outcomes in Asynchronous and Synchronous Online Learning Environments in a Biology Course

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Executive Summary

Over the last decade or so, the Internet has made an indelible impact on higher education by enabling the phenomenal growth of online education. Most colleges across the country now offer fully online (asynchronous) courses and more recently blended (synchronous) courses. Asynchronous interactivity is where participants are separated geographically and are not engaged at the same time, as they would in a face-to-face or telephone conversation. Rather, exchanges are mainly by e-mail and there is some elapsed time between message exchanges. In a synchronous format there is a blending of face-to-face and online learning. These modified learning environments created by web-based technologies, not only eliminate barriers of time, space and learning styles, providing increased access to higher education, they challenge the traditional styles of teaching and learning.

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