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Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Learning

Synchronous vs. asynchronous learning

Synchronous learning is when a teacher delivers material live to students, while asynchronous learning is when the material isn’t delivered live and can be learned anytime. Neither model for learning is best. There are advantages and disadvantages of synchronous and asynchronous learning, depending on your goals as an instructor and the needs of your students. It’s important to take these needs into account during your instructional design, getting clear on what their learning capabilities and objectives are and which delivery method will help them get there. Don’t forget, you can also mix and match elements of each to meet your educational goals.

Here are some pros and cons to each method.

Pros and cons of synchronous learning

Pros of synchronous learning

  • Students benefit from a high level of engagement, building relationships with the teacher and with fellow students.

  • It works really well for certain learning styles. It’s especially valuable for those who aren’t as self-directed and need to be held accountable for learning.

  • Students can get live help or ask for clarification from the instructor.

Cons of synchronous learning

  • Students can get left behind, especially if they have a learning disability or socio-cultural factors threatening their success.

  • It’s less convenient and requires students to be able to take part live.

  • It can be more work for the teacher and requires teaching the same material again and again.

Pros and cons of asynchronous learning

Pros of asynchronous learning

  • Students can access the training anytime, from anywhere.

  • It works well for self-directed learners who want to go at their own pace.

  • Teachers can often create lesson materials once and then focus on other things (although they do need to be updated)

  • It integrates well with new learning techniques like microlearning.

Cons of asynchronous learning

  • Students have less engagement with the teacher (although a good online community can supplement this).

  • Students who aren’t self-directed struggle to stay engaged and may drop off.

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