You might have heard the terms ‘synchronous’ and asynchronous’ learning but not really been sure what they mean. Here’s a simple breakdown of the meaning and how these two types of learning can benefit your online course. What is synchronous learning Vs asynchronous learning?
Synchronous learning is:
Synchronous learning can be thought of as learning that takes place at the same time as the rest of the class. Whether it’s online or in person, synchronous learning follows coordinated class times where the whole class is in the lesson together at the same time. This follows a more traditional classroom approach. You could be in an online chat room or LMS structure but the main point is that the lessons and course have a structured time to meet and go through the learning together. Synchronous is real time.
Asking the tutor real time questions and getting real time answers, interacting with with students during the lessons, being in the same online place at the same online time. For some people this real time learning helps them to commit as they feel involved with a sense of ‘real time’ and getting instant feedback to questions.
Not so beneficial?
Synchronous learning is difficult to implement for people in different countries because of the varying timezones. It also doesn’t allow for ‘family time’ or other commitments. Some people like to take longer to go over learning materials and others breeze through materials quickly and don’t like to be held back by the classroom environment. Often people like to think about replies to learning and take their time. Not everyone is a spontaneous thinker.
Asynchronous learning is:
Asynchronous learning is learning that doesn’t adhere to a class time schedule. Learners can take a course at their own pace and at whatever time suits. There may still be weekly/fortnightly expectations but learning does not have to be at a specific time. Learners can also learn outside of the learning space by writing blogs on learning activities, using hashtags # to find out updates and learning from and contributing video materials and using discussion forums. Learning does not have to be in the one online place (although is usually facilitated through one space).
Asynchronous learning is flexible as the learner can join whenever is convenient, in the evening or on weekends etc. Learners can connect specifically with people in the course who have similar interests, in their own time and at their own pace. Rather than connecting with people just because they’re in the same class.
Asynchronous also allows for gathering a wider spectrum of information and completing the learning circle by relaying information back through blogging, video or just a series of tweets. Remember, just because it’s asynchronous doesn’t mean there isn’t another learner online for instant chats, skype sessions, webinars that are coordinated for different time zones,
Not so beneficial?
There’s less structure so asynchronous learning can take more discipline. If someone is not so good at social networking (connecting with others online) asynchronous can be a bit daunting as it doesn require learners to take the initiative and connect.