Synchronous and Asynchronous Online Learning

Synchronous and Asynchronous Online Learning

You can basically break down all of distance learning into two categories: synchronous and asynchronous.

Synchronous learning involves classes where the students and the teacher go on the Internet at the same designated times each week, and during these sessions the teacher presents lessons in real time. If you miss one of these sessions, therefore, you miss out on some course material. On the other hand, asynchronous courses are courses in which an instructor makes a number of educational materials available online and lets students review them on their own time. Such materials may include articles, lecture transcripts, viral videos, writing assignments and tests. An asynchronous course may involve deadlines: the first test must be turned in by a certain date, a paper is due at the end of each week, and so on. And there may be one or more meeting times each semester when the instructor will check in with the students to make sure no one has any questions or problems. But asynchronous courses are essentially self-taught, and students have wide flexibility as far as how they will complete their work.

Both synchronous and asynchronous courses are readily available to all distance learning students; most institutions of online learning offer both kinds of classes. So the student must decide which kind better suits his or her learning style. Some students prefer to interact with professors so they can ask questions all the time. Students also get to know other students in the synchronous setup, which means they can offer one another extra help and can even arrange online study sessions. Also, the material in a synchronous course is likely to be explained more carefully, step by step. Some students feel overwhelmed when faced with mastering course material on their own. And, of course, synchronous learning is not suitable for procrastinators.

On the other hand, if you have a busy personal or family life, or you work the night shift or irregular hours, you might find it more convenient to take asynchronous courses so you can fit your classwork into your schedule. Or, if you’ve tried synchronous courses before and you found that they go too slowly for you and you’re often bored, or if you found that synchronous online educators often go too fast for you and you tend to get lost, then you might benefit from striking out on your own and going through material at your own pace.

Online learning market place

Apr 27, 2012