Synchronous and asynchronous elearning


In today’s competitive market, you are expected to be highly educated and consistently improve your skills and acquire new ones by engaging in lifelong learning. It’s difficult for professionals as well as remote students to attend offline classes for learning.  

E-learning is arguably one of the most efficient solutions to the growing need for learning and education.

However, before getting into eLearning, students and educational institutions or mentors need to understand the benefits and limitations of eLearning. 

Improvements in technologies have led to the growing popularity of eLearning. It is categorized into two: Synchronous eLearning and Asynchronous eLearning. Let’s understand more about the two categories in details. 

What is Asynchronous eLearning?

Initially, e-learning mainly relied on asynchronous. A key component of flexible e-learning, asynchronous e-learning is based on the idea that the participants and teachers can’t be online at the same time. 

In fact, the concept of eLearning was introduced because of the asynchronous nature of online courses, combining education with work, and other commitments. 

Learners can go online anytime they want and download content or access video lectures or other files at their convenient time and from any device. Some asynchronous eLearning platforms even offer a forum or functionality to allow students send messages to teachers or to connect with peers – helping students refine their knowledge and contribution. 

Asynchronous eLearning is commonly facilitated by media such as web, e-mail, and discussion boards. 

It can be carried out even when the teacher or the student is offline. One of the major benefits of asynchronous eLearning is that it enables the student to follow the course at their own pace – without worrying about scheduling conflicts.

It is perfect for those students who want to or are able to complete the lessons on their own. However, those students who lack the motivation to complete the course on their own may not receive the significant benefit from this eLearning. 

As there is no real interactive environment, it can even lead to feelings of isolation. 

Five Proven Online Tools that Support Asynchronous Learning

  1. Videos
    A powerful asynchronous learning tool, Videos are widely used by teachers, especially for auditory and visual learners.
  2. Digital Library
    It is an organized set of resources such as audio, e-learning courses, video, eBooks, and micro-learning nuggets that help in efficient asynchronous learning and teaching.
  3. Discussion Board
    It enables learners to interact with the teacher and with, through discussion threads
  4. E-mail Lists
    As asynchronous learning does not support instant answers to queries, emails can be used to exchange messages between the two; the learners and instructor.
  5. Blogs
    A blog is also considered as an asynchronous learning tool that supports learners by providing current information on a topic.

What is Synchronous eLearning?

Any learning system or tool that is in real-time is considered as synchronous eLearning. Students who participate in synchronous e-learning are able to interact with teachers and students during the lesson itself. So they don’t need to learn the entire course on their own. 

Synchronous eLearning is commonly facilitated by media such as video conferencing, webinars and instant messaging (or live chat). 

One of the main benefits of synchronous e-learning is that it helps e-learners feel like participants rather than isolates. 

Eventually, it is perfect for those students who are unable to complete a course all on their own. 

However, when it comes to time flexibility, Synchronous eLearning might not be the right choice. Students would have to be available at a specific time slot to attend a live teaching session in real-time. So Synchronous eLearning may not be ideal for participants with busy schedules like working professionals.

Three Proven Online Tools that Support Synchronous Learning

  1. Webinar
    Short for Web-based seminar, a webinar is a lecture, presentation, workshop or a seminar, transmitted over a web using video conferencing software – enabling host and participants to give, receive and discuss information in real-time.
  2. Web Conferencing App

Desktop and mobile applications like GoConsult and Zoom are being widely adopted to host a lecture in real time.  

  1. Instant Messaging with integrated whiteboard Tools

The internet speeds and web cameras have improved these days. Else most of the synchronous teaching and learning were delivered and received using instant messaging. Most of the LMS tool offer integrated instant messaging functionalities.  

When, Why, and How to Use Asynchronous vs. Synchronous E-Learning 

Asynchronous E-LearningSynchronous E-Learning
WhenIt can be used when discussing complex issuesdon’t have planned schedule or needs time flexibilityIt can be used when:discussing less complex issuesone is available at the given time slot
WhyStudents who need time to understand the topic gets more time to reflect because the teacher or the sender does not expect an instant answerStudents who need to be encouraged, become more motivated and committed because an immediate response is expected.
HowUse asynchronous means such as videos, discussion boards, e-mail and blogs.Use synchronous means such as videoconferencing, webinar, instant messaging and chat, and more

The Take Away:

Ideally, effective e-learning courses and platforms should include both synchronous as well as asynchronous learning activities. It will leverage both students and teachers to get the benefit of both the formats; regardless of their schedules or preferred learning methods. Ultimately, it will enable students with access to instant support if needed, while still letting them learn on their own pace.

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