Synchronous and asynchronous learning are two different kinds of eLearning methods. With the current scenario of a 'new normal,' eLearning is gaining rapid momentum and is paving its way to becoming the most popular learning approach. On the contrary, as complex, as these terms look, they are pretty simple to decipher. In this article, you will learn about synchronous and asynchronous learning to choose the best eLearning method as per your interests, learning style, and schedule.

What do you mean by Synchronous Learning?

Synchronous learning is the online version of traditional classroom learning with live lectures, discussions, and a fixed schedule. It happens in real-time with accessibility from different geographical locations. The students must log in at a set time to an eLearning platform or a web conferencing app, such as Google meets, Zoom, etc. Synchronous learning is more structured and nurtures an interactive session by engaging with peers and instructors utilizing webcams, microphones, and chat rooms.

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This eLearning method is helpful to deliver and receive instant feedback due to the collective learning experience and under the constant guidance and mentorship of the instructor/lecturer. Classes falling under the category of synchronous learning are a time commitment with no scope of rescheduling in a typical scenario. Learning resources, such as reading material and assignments, are planned before the classes with an innovative lens to sculpt a practical and value-adding synchronous learning session.

Furthermore, it is a common belief that synchronous learning session is always instructor-directed. However, it can take the shape of a fruitful group discussion among the learners or presentations led by them. Additionally, the competitive aspect of this approach tends to motivate the learners to perform better and

This sums up the key features of synchronous learning as follows:

Noteworthy highlights: Synchronous Learning

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What is Asynchronous learning?

Synchronous and asynchronous learning are poles apart. Asynchronous learning allows a flexible schedule and can take place at any given time of the day, as per the learner’s convenience. It is a self-piloted form of eLearning where a learner can access the resources/material anytime, irrespective of the presence of the instructor or other learners. They can also connect with the lecturer/peers later on for any clarification on a topic(s).

This does not imply that asynchronous learning is less rigorous or shrinks the program’s success rate. Asynchronous learning still has deadlines or targets to be met in a given timeframe. But it provides gives the liberty to complete the assignment and meet the deadlines in a self-paced manner, with access to the platform, tools, resources, and information at all times. Proactive participation is the essence of asynchronous learning, as it requires the learner to be self-driven and motivated to take the program and adhere to the deadlines.

Generally, the participation rate is higher in asynchronous learning than synchronous learning due to the method’s flexible and comfortable nature while proceeding at a self-led pace. It utilizes message or chat boards to facilitate discussion between the instructor and learners and ask questions. Pre-recorded video lectures, audio files, and detailed & simplified notes are fundamental to asynchronous learning to ascertain a firm grip over the concepts by the learners.

This leads to the key takeaways of asynchronous learning:

Noteworthy highlights: Asynchronous Learning

  • A Flexible schedule to allow working as per the schedule
  • Unstructured and self-directed with access to learning material at all times
  • Requires motivation to avoid procrastination and distractions
  • Less engaging and lack of frequent discussions

Similarities between Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning

Despite synchronous and asynchronous learning being the two sides of the coin, they have a few similarities. These learning approaches are the two branches of eLearning with below points in common:

  • Accessibility: Attend the classes from anywhere
  • Communication: Persistent support by the instructors with regular doubt solving sessions
  • Engagement: Opportunity to expand the network and connect with the peers

Ways to devise strategies for successful synchronous and asynchronous learning

Planning and implementing carefully curated strategies catering to synchronous and asynchronous learning is the key to yielding successful results. Here are some of the ways to do it;

Tips for Synchronous Learning

The ideal learning environment

To ensure the success of the eLearning program, the instructor needs to establish an ambiance free from distractions and hindrances. A suitable time must be chosen for conducting the class and facilitating informative discussions. The expectations from the course need to be stated straightforwardly in advance to make the learners well aware of their vital participation.

Be careful with information overload

As the synchronous learning sessions take place in real-time, it is crucial to highlight the importance of not overloading the mental capacity of learners. Each learner processes the information differently and within the varying timeframe. Therefore, the instructor must pay attention to including only the key points in the resources and avoid long duration of sessions.

Tips for Asynchronous Learning

Easy to understand

Without live support from the instructors, the learners might find the learning materials hard to understand. Additionally, long-duration courses are generally avoided by the learners. It lays emphasizes the introduction of bite-sized modules with easy-to-comprehend information, making them accessible on the go.

Constant Support

The instructors must provide continuous support due to the flexible timings and the lack of face-to-face guidance. Any technical or educational help should be provided to the learners to tackle the difficulties faced while logging in, understanding concepts, or accessing the learning materials.

Diversified approach

In an asynchronous learning setting, the learners are more likely to drop out of the course if it fails to retain their interest. Thus, a diversified mix of learning materials should be incorporated into the course structure that caters to the learning preferences of the learners as well. Gamified learning, simulations, conveying the information through flow charts, graphs, etc., are great ways to implement a diverse asynchronous learning model.

Synchronous V/S Asynchronous Learning: The right fit for you

The suitable learning model between synchronous and asynchronous learning is entirely dependent on your learning objectives and goals. The schedule is an important aspect to consider while looking for the best learning model. The night-shift workers or people with disturbed sleep schedules find asynchronous learning more value-adding, whereas it might pose a time management issue for others. The instructor or the course curator should also consider the varying needs and preferences of the learners through surveys or questionnaires.


Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning

Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between synchronous and asynchronous learning?

Synchronous and asynchronous learning are the two types of eLearning methods. The flexible schedule, unstructured way of learning, and less interactive environment set asynchronous learning apart from synchronous learning.

Which is an example for asynchronous learning?

One of the many examples of asynchronous learning is a pre-recorded lecture that the learners can access anytime.

What is synchronous learning?

Synchronous learning refers to a structured classroom like eLearning or a virtual learning experience. It has a fixed duration and schedule with an interactive environment and live lectures/discussions.

What is asynchronous online teaching?

Asynchronous learning is best described by an unstructured and flexible schedule that consists of learning material accessible by the learners at all times.

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