Synchronous vs Asynchronous learning

What’s the difference between synchronous learning and asynchronous learning?

Synchronous learning is online or distance education that happens in real time, often with a set class schedule and required login times. Asynchronous learning does not require real-time interaction; instead, content is available online for students to access when it best suits their schedules, and assignments are completed to deadlines. Our programs use a hybrid learning model, which includes a blend of both formats.

What Is Synchronous Learning?

Synchronous learning happens in real time. This means that you, your classmates, and your tutor interact in a specific virtual place at a set time. In these courses, instructors commonly take attendance, same as they would in a lecture hall. Common methods of synchronous online learning include video conferencing, teleconferencing, live chatting, and live-streamed lectures that must be viewed in real time.

What are the advantages of synchronous learning?

  • Classroom Engagement

    If you like active discussion, immediate feedback, and personal interactions with peers and instructors, you’ll probably prefer a synchronous learning experience. This format can be especially helpful if you’re just beginning the transition from a traditional classroom to an online setting. Live videoconferencing, lecture broadcasts, and chatting in real time can offer much of the personal engagement available in a classroom, while also allowing you the comforts of home and no commute time. Plus, you won't ever have to worry about germs during cold and flu season.

  • Dynamic Learning

    For some learning styles, a synchronous online format is actually an improvement over classroom learning because it allows for a more dynamic exploration of topics, ideas, and concepts. There is a speed and immediacy to synchronous online learning; video conferencing makes it possible to ask peers and tutors questions and receive answers mid-lesson, and not being in a lecture hall means you can do your own research on the side without disrupting class. If you thrive at a swift pace, surrounded by competing and complementary ideas, a synchronous format might suit you well.

  •  Instructional Depth

    With synchronous online learning, you interact regularly and frequently with your tutors and can get to know them. This provides regular opportunities for face-to-face discussion, individual guidance, and mentorship without having to schedule independent appointments. If you do your best work when you have accessible and supportive instruction, you’re probably a synchronous learner.

What is Asynchronous Learning?

Asynchronous learning happens on your schedule. While your course of study, instructor, or program will provide materials for reading, lectures for viewing, assignments for completing, and exams for evaluation, you can access and satisfy these requirements on your own schedule, so long as you meet the expected deadlines. Common methods of asynchronous online learning we use include self-guided lesson modules, pre-recorded video content, virtual libraries, lecture notes, and online discussion boards or social media platforms.

What are the advantages of asynchronous learning?

  • Flexibility

    If you have a demanding schedule or keep weird hours, you’re probably an asynchronous learner. In these programs, materials are freely available — usually within a set period, like a week or two — so you can access them when it best suits your scheudle, even if it's in the middle of the night. Materials can include text-based lecture notes; self-guided, interactive learning modules; or pre-recorded lectures and podcasts. You can complete a module on the train ride to work; listen to a lecture on headphones while your baby naps; or sleep until noon, and take a pop quiz over brunch. Asynchronous learning gives you the materials so that you can complete them at your convenience.

  •  Pacing

    One of the most empowering features of asynchronous learning is that you set the pace (usually within set deadlines). You can read and review materials as much as you need to, completing them based on your understanding rather than on when class time ends. If you’re a quick learner, you can power through materials and units that come easily to you. If it takes you longer to absorb new knowledge, you can review information, take notes, and practice retention without worrying about falling behind your classmates or missing key points in a lecture.

  • Affordability

    If a major motivating factor for you in choosing online education is affordability, fully asynchronous programs are among your best options. Self-guided modules, video tutorials, and virtual libraries all offer you the chance to pursue your education with minimal oversight and expense.