Synchronous & Asynchronous Learning: When to Use Each

Decorative: Icon of one person on a laptop speaking and three in headphones listening juxtaposed against an icon of a single person reading on a laptop


Clicking on the image above will take you to "E-Learning 101 - Synchronous and Asynchronous Tools: What, How, and Why?" 

A. "Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning" (post) is worth reading in its entirety for its practical guidance.

1. The post does the following:

  • Introduces the "two basic formats of learning in an online environment"
  • Outlines "the benefits & drawbacks of each"
  • Offers concrete suggestions as to when and how to use each (and when not)
  • Provides a useful infographic (see C below) to summarize the two methods' complementary functions

2. It also ...

  • Gives specific guidance as to length of videos, "chunking," your sessions, etc.
  • Connects specific teaching/learning activities with the appropriate mode of delivery 
  • Models several class configurations for adapting a lecture course to the online environment  

B. What Are Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning?

1. Synchronous = In Real Time

  • "Synchronous learning is any activity in an online course that happens in real-time, like a Zoom meeting or a chat."
  • "It requires all participants to be in the same online environment, actively participating at the same time." 
  • "It is typically characterized by opportunities for interaction between the instructor and students and amongst students, such as a Q & A, a Class Discussion or Office Hours."

2. Asynchronous = Not in Real Time

  • "Asynchronous learning is all the other activities in an online course that students can complete on their own schedule."
  • "While there may still be due dates, students can generally complete these any time within the given timeline for the task."
  • "These activities can include video lectures, readings, assignments and group discussions or collaborative tasks."

C. When to Use Synchronous/Asynchronous Learning (infographic)

When to use synchronous or asynchronous learning infographic


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