Online Asynchronous Team-based Learning (“TBL”)

Who is teaching with asynchronous online TBL and what are they teaching

Some of the institutions that we are aware of teaching asynchronous online TBL include Augusta University, University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Nevada Las Vegas.  These institutions are primarily using online TBL for nursing classes.  Many graduate nursing programs have online components because there are many working nurses that have changing work shift patterns making it difficult to attend physical or even synchronous online classes.

Most universities use TBL in a modality where learners are physically co-located in the same classroom.  However, there are a handful of universities starting to use TBL in entirely online courses.  Some of these online courses are conducted synchronously where students and teachers come to a virtual classroom and interact at the same time typically using live web-based video conferencing.  Other online courses are conducted completely asynchronously where students and teachers interact at different times and never meet live.  This piece will focus on asynchronous online TBL and describe examples of who is teaching with TBL in an asynchronous online modality, what they are teaching and how it is being done.

How to implement asynchronous online TBL

Every situation will be different and depend on faculty, students, technology and other factors but an illustration of how TBL could be implemented in an asynchronous online modality follows below.


Pre-work and IRAT on Day 1-2:  Students complete pre-work on their own along with an online Individual Readiness Assurance Test (“IRAT”).  Students may start the test anytime during Day 1 or Day 2.  However, once they start the IRAT that only have 10 minutes to answer 10 readiness assurance questions.


TRAT and Clarification Request on Day 3-4:  Teams complete the online Team Readiness Assurance Test (“TRAT”).  Like the face-to-face and online synchronous modalities, one member of the team will be the official reporter and submits answers on behalf of the team and receives immediate feedback after each submission.  Other team members can view the immediate feedback.  Teams have the option to meet at their convenience to do the TRAT all at one time together or work over the many readily available collaboration tools to complete the TRAT.  Immediately following the TRAT, teams can request clarification on specific questions.


Clarification and Applications on Day 5-6:  To address clarification requests, faculty could choose to provide an explanation or assign teams to provide explanations.  Applications could also be released for teams to work on and respond.  Teams can submit responses to multiple choice or free response applications.  Two additional features that we some educators have requested:

  • Application rationale: Teams can type a written rationale for their answer
  • Individual applications: Individuals could be required to submit an individual response to the applications before the team works on applications.  This could be used to enhance individual accountability like the Individual Readiness Assurance Test that comes before the Team Readiness Assurance Test.


Application Reporting and Discussion Day 7:  After the applications are submitted, faculty can reveal the answers to all the teams.  Faculty can now facilitate a discussion with messages and feedback on application responses.  On technique is to require students are teams to comment on the responses of two other teams other than their own.  Another technique which educators requested we build is the “e-gallery walk” which is used with free response applications.  This feature requires teams to vote on the best application response other than their own team.  This is a way to have teams learn by reviewing other team responses and critically evaluating what makes a good response.

Learn more about asynchronous online TBL

In 2017 the Team-Based Learning Collaborative (“TBLC”) formed an Online TBL Community of Practice (“Online TBL COP”) of which our founder, Brian O’Dwyer is a member.  In 2018, the Online TBL COP will be releasing a series of white papers related to Online TBL.  The TBLC Annual Meeting in March 2018 will also feature a workshop related to Online TBL.  If you are interested in learning more about how our InteDashboard™ TBL software has been used to implement Online TBL you can book a demo here.

If you have a question about Online TBL, you can reach us here and we will do our best to address it..

Other asynchronous online TBL considerations

When implementing TBL online in the asynchronous modality, a few other things to consider:

  • Learner preparation: Preparing and explaining to learners what TBL is, why it will be used and how it will be implemented is important in a face-to-face or synchronous online modality and is even more important in an asynchronous context.
  • Team size: Michele Clark from UNLV recommends small team sizes of three or four for online TBL to drive greater accountability as compared to the common practice of team sizes of five to seven for face-to-face TBL.
  • Peer evaluation frequency: Some suggest more frequent peer evaluation, possibly as frequent as after every module or application activity.
  • Sections: One university (University of Alabama at Birmingham) divides larger online classes of over 100 students into smaller sections of less than 30 students for more effective discussion and facilitation.
  • Academic integrity: Online assessments have raised concerns about academic integrity.  Michele Clark from UNLV recommends reducing the time to answer questions to mitigate this risk.  For example, students may only have 7.5 minutes to answer 10 questions which is the equivalent to 45 seconds per question.



We would like to thank the hundreds of TBL educators we have met with that have either used our InteDashboard™ TBL software and provided feedback or took the time to demo InteDashboard™ TBL software.  We have learned tremendously from these interactions and are grateful for their input.

We would also like to thank the Team-Based Learning Collaborative’s Online TBL Community of Practice of which our founder, Brian O’Dwyer is a member.  The discussions and collaboration of this group have been valuable to our developing our understanding of online TBL.

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