When students listen to a lecture together in a classroom, they are engaged in synchronous learning; all students are participating in the learning process at the same time.
In an online course, synchronous learning is no longer a given. Professors can choose whether to offer synchronous learning, asynchronous learning, or a combination of both.
Synchronous learning may take the form of a live lecture, live chat room, phone conference, video conference, or Google Hangout. Benefits of synchronous learning include:
- Students can ask questions in real-time.
- Students feel a greater sense of community and connection to their peers when they all learn together.
- Students become more engaged in their learning.
- Students feel a stronger sense of collaboration.
Asynchronous learning can be provided through recorded lectures, powerpoint slides, or reading assignments that students can access on their own time. Benefits of asynchronous learning include:
- Students can progress through the learning when they want, where they want, at the pace they want, in the order they want.
- Students have more time to reflect on what they learned.
- Shy students may feel more comfortable interacting with their professor or peers when they have time to compose thought-out emails rather than feeling pressured to speak up in a live conference.
- Students can participate in the same activities regardless of timezone.
How have you used synchronous and asynchronous learning in your online courses? What benefits have you observed?
Source: Advantages Of Using Both Synchronous and Asynchronous Technologies In An Online Learning Environment by Michael Higley