Morocco Should Adopt an Asynchronous Online Learning Framework

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Morocco’s COVID-19-induced transition to remote education revealed the promise of adopting a community of asynchronous online learning framework. The main hindrances to online learning in Morocco are the lack of accessible digital learning materials, weak or inaccessible bandwidth connectivity, and inappropriate or inaccessible learning technology tools. When one of these factors hides, it foretokens online learning failure. 

A community of asynchronous online learning (CAOL) framework is important to surpass the issue of a failing remote education in Morocco. So, what is this framework, what are its components, and how does it work?

CAOL framework

My proposed community of asynchronous online learning framework for Morocco would take the form of an application void of the need for bandwidth connectivity. The framework addresses four factors to better function and impact students’ learning: Affordability, materiality, flexibility, and assessment. These components meet socioeconomic circumstances, knowledge construction, interaction, and evaluation perspectives.

Figure 1: Community of Asynchronous Online Learning (CAOL) Framework

My idea for a community of asynchronous online learning framework came as a result of the failure of Microsoft Teams, an LMS provided by Morocco’s Ministry of Education during COVID-19 quarantine. What made things worse was the difficulty to place video calls with a class of 40 students. Voice, then, is likely not heard as Microsoft Teams is developed for teams, not large classes. 

Additionally, LMS is unfamiliar to teachers and students, and the latter’s socioeconomic issues hindered online learning when a large number were unable to stay connected. Many teachers received voice messages from parents complaining about their inability to afford internet access for their children. Many left learning platforms before the first month of COVID-19 quarantine elapsed. Chikhi, the head of a high school, told me that using Microsoft Teams to teach online met with a severe failure in his school.

Affordability

Some students may have the necessary technology tools, such as PCs, tablets, smart phones, and/or smart TVs, to use for online learning frameworks. However, a vast majority of them do not have them at hand, as 5.1 million families that received financial help during the COVID-19 quarantine are considered poor. Not having appropriate technology for online learning is another barrier which excludes a significant number of students who base their study on hard-copy textbooks. Affording technology tools is critical to establishing an asynchronous online learning community in Morocco.

Materiality

When technology tools are afforded for all learners, pedagogical materials ought to be provided too. Learning designers have to make subject matter content that “shows itself,” diligently explained. Learners, then, would be able to grasp it independently of instructors. To meet this end, subject matter content should be provided for students in various forms: Written, photos, audio, videos, and simulations taking into account students’ learning styles. The varied content would enhance students’ engagements in content learning and make them yearn for learning.

Additionally, subject matter content is orchestrated in a community of asynchronous online learning framework for Morocco in accordance with a module or unit approach for students to navigate through its components easily.

Morocco Should Adopt an Asynchronous Online Learning Framework

The CAOL framework should function asynchronously once the application is installed. It is developed specifically to suit the needs of learners who cannot manage to constantly have access to network connection to stay updated. This framework includes all levels’ related learning materials, from primary school to high school. 

The content is already there for students to navigate while learners can update the application for interaction as network connectivity is available. They can take part in discussion forums and/or ask for help from peers and/or their instructor. This CAOL framework is critical to establishing a learning environment where students can raise discussions about themes they are learning.

Under this feature, students find several links relevant to the subject matter, which they can surf to find out more about themes they study. The feature restricts students to certain educational websites or applications to save them time and keep them focused on their study instead of perusing search engine results.

Flexibility: Asynchronous and synchronous

This community of asynchronous online learning framework is primarily approached to make online education flexible and accessible to meet the needs of all Morocco’s students, regardless of socioeconomic circumstances. Subject matter content is fundamentally accessible asynchronously for learners to access, navigate, learn, and assess whenever and wherever they are, regardless of bandwidth connectivity, after installing the application. 

Students can study the content by scrutinizing learning materials available in the application, review the learned material, and set themselves for assessment after finishing each unit/module. Teachers can keep track of students’ improvement in the classroom and through the application when they have access to network services. Thereby, students receive double-faceted feedback; automated asynchronous feedback of the assessment from the application and a detailed description of their improvement from teachers.

Cooperation and collaboration

Learners can do assignments diligently in cooperation with their peers, asynchronously and synchronously. They may cooperate together at distance on a project and submit it anytime through the application, with respect to the deadline, for a teacher to evaluate and grade. Cooperation and collaboration on assignments at a distance through chat forums can enhance class dynamics and engagement that may not be reached through face-to-face learning.

In connection with projects, teachers should think of students’ e-portfolio, which is a relevant criterion to keep up with students’ general improvement and adds to engagement in the learning environment. For teachers, it shows students’ areas of progress and advancement. It also displays areas of weakness, which could be exploited for better guidance and instruction. 

For students, the e-portfolio allows for mirroring their level; all forms of assignments students submit become part of their e-portfolio through which they can gauge their levels of improvement and enjoy that feeling of success and originality. In sum, the e-portfolio directs learners to be more responsible for their learning.

Modes of interaction

Moore identified three types of interactions: With content, teacher, and learners. At least two of these entities must be mediated by interaction with interface. My community of asynchronous online learning framework in Morocco’s context also suggests interaction with an education counsellor. 

Asynchronous navigation across content gives students food for thought before they come to class. They can inquire into content by jotting down notes and asking questions. This allows space in face-to-face learning for deeper exploration and practice.

Students can reach their instructors to inquire about items they do not fully grasp. What is more, students with special needs can manage extra sessions with their instructors for more direction and guidance. 

Interaction may take many forms, such as synchronous instant messaging, audio calls, video calls, or asynchronous messages in the chat forums, audio messages, and video messages. Forms may vary but the objective is one: Learning at students’ appropriate pace.

Interaction with learners refers to interactions between members of an online class. It is vital in that it engages students in a process of communication with one another in the learning environment, where it establishes social integration between group members. 

This helps with collaborating, discussing course concepts, etc. It complements the classroom’s atmosphere with discussion in chat forums. This sets up a positive classroom atmosphere in online learning as well as face-to-face learning, where students feel comfortable learning and communicating with each other.

Learner-interface interaction contains online learning environments and mediates two entities, people and content. If appropriately used it can significantly affect the quality and quantity of the other four interactions, implemented through interaction with the interface.

Interaction with an education counsellor

The Moroccan minister of education shed light on the absence of an efficient system of school counselling and educational guidance, which results in successive failure and/or dropout. Thereby, the community of asynchronous online learning framework for Morocco contains a fifth type of interaction through which students can access current guidelines and recent updates about higher education institutions. 

Due to a lack of education counsellors, they schedule only one or two meetings per year for each class (around 40 students), where students neither receive enough information about the discipline of study they want, nor receive convincing answers to their queries. The future guidance feature in the application, controlled by education counsellors, contains a set of information about disciplines of study specific to each class major. 

It allows students to navigate through the data to find sufficient information about any major’s disciplines before they get in touch with the education counsellor. Through this feature, students access recent announcements launched by the Ministry of Education or institutions themselves. It contains information about all the disciplines in which students can enroll in after passing their exams.

Morocco Should Adopt an Asynchronous Online Learning FrameworkFigure 4. Modes of interaction in CAOL Framework

With the CAOL framework I propose, education counsellors would not need to visit schools anymore thanks to learner-education counsellor interaction. They can organize webinars for each class several times a year and leave a record for the absentees. 

They can also keep track of students’ choices on future disciplines of study and make sure they are convinced and aware of their related effects through chat forums and video and/or audio calls. What is important about this component is that students can reach and stay in contact with education counsellors

Gamifying

The gamifying approach to learning is ever evolving in the school atmosphere with a particular reference to low attainment issues several nations across the world are facing. 

Games have twofold objectives in this community of asynchronous online learning framework for Morocco; learning and entertaining. Students are disposed to many types of games the author, as a high school teacher, personally finds them playing in the classroom that are not educatively designed, such as Free Fire. Incorporating them will catch students’ attention, keep them motivated, and keep their attention on the learning objectives while being entertained. 

Teachers may use them in a variety of activities such as lesson lead-in activities, lesson summary activities, and/or as a source of entertainment and motivation when the class is undermotivated. Moreover, they are central to teaching critical thinking and problem-solving skills. 

Gamifying, thus, seems efficient to learning for students who feel bored with traditional teaching strategies. Games should be incorporated in this framework and designers and practitioners should shift their attention towards incorporating games as a teaching strategy into the curriculum.

Self-assessment

The CAOL framework paves the way for students to reflect on their learning and evaluate their performance. The objective is to set a path for learners to take responsibility for their learning at an earlier age.

Diagnostic test: Within the framework, before students begin any level, they would have to sit for a test. Automated feedback from the application shows students their gaps in knowledge, and accordingly guides them to the items they have to reconsider. Students have the chance to review previous levels’ modules for better consolidation and resit for the assessment before they begin new level’s lessons. This may happen in summer or at the beginning of the year.

Formative assessment: At the end of each part of the module/unit, students sit for a quiz to assess their subject matter-related knowledge. 

For students, self-assessment provides full analyses of their answers and shows them areas of weakness. It directs them to items they need to review and master before they proceed. Consequently, it saves them time and energy to advance in their studies before they sit for exams in class. When they are connected to the network, the analysis of scores automatically updates in the teachers’ board in the application. 

For teachers, self-assessment allows them to track learners’ advancement and progress. It displays a complete synthesis of class’ places of weaknesses, saving them time and energy. They can design supplementary teaching materials, advancing students’ achievements.

The summative assessment habitually results in grading learners’ work at the end of a module, course, or semester. It does not necessarily lead to grading, yet students can resort to assessing their overall subject matter-related knowledge at the end of the semester or year. This kind of assessment helps learners evaluate their overall performance before they sit for final exams.

Conclusion

Four motivations and one objective contributed to my proposal for this community of asynchronous online learning framework to advance education in Morocco. The objective is connected with having a database of learning materials for students, with different socioeconomic issues, to benefit from regardless of bandwidth connectivity. 

As for motivations, I would like students to have a simple learning application that can be installed on any learning technology tool, containing unified learning materials presented in various forms to meet students’ learning styles and strategies. Within the CAOL, students can learn anywhere and anytime at their appropriate pace. 

Moreover, I would like learners to have a learning environment where they can interact with their peers to cooperate and collaborate on assignments, with instructors to inquire about obscure learning items, and with education counsellors to receive relevant guidance about disciplines of study they would like to opt for at higher education institutions. This framework is a contribution to Morocco’s blending of online learning with face-to-face learning, with the emphasis on asynchronous online learning.

Additional references:

CSEFRS. (2014). Pour une École de l’Equité, de la Qualité et de la Promotion : Vision Stratégique de la Réforme 2015-2030. Available online at https://www.men.gov.ma/Fr/Documents/Vision_strateg_CSEF16004fr.pdf

Dahmani, H., Ben, C. Y., Bayout, A. (2020). Gender Gaps in English as a Second Foreign Language Attainment: Some Oujda High Schools Case Study. In press.

Hillman, D. C., Willis, D. J. & Gunawardena, C. N. (1994). Learner-interface interaction in distance education: An extension of contemporary models and strategies for practitioners, in The American Journal of Distance Education, 8(2): pp.30–42.

SABER. (2015). Morocco: School Autonomy and Accountability. World Bank Group.

أمزازي سعيد. مجلس المستشارين: جلسة الأسئلة الشفهية ليوم 12 ماي 2020. (فيديو)، متاح على هذا الرابط: https://bit.ly/2McdZBo

Source: moroccoworldnews.com