Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Learning: The Case For Each
Choosing between asynchronous vs synchronous online learning isn’t as simple as deciding whether you’d rather learn on your own or in a group. Both instruction styles offer valuable opportunities to learners. That’s why Tulane University Law School combines both in its Title IX certificate program.
As a teacher, coach, or education leader you may already have some knowledge of these two class structures. Let’s investigate each one to understand why combining them creates valuable opportunities for you as a student.
What is synchronous and asynchronous online learning
Most people use the terms synchronous learning and asynchronous learning to talk about courses that are delivered online. These terms are rarely used to describe traditional, in-person instruction, probably because most in-person instruction is synchronous by necessity. However, parallels exist between these learning models and traditional classroom instruction.
In synchronous learning, instruction is given to all students at the same time. A live lecture is an example of synchronous learning. Most classroom instruction is synchronous, meaning that students receive the material at the same time and move through the learning process as a group.
By contrast, asynchronous learning can happen at any time. The resources are available, but students access them at their convenience. Correspondence courses represent the earliest form of asynchronous learning. Before online learning was available, students could receive course material by mail, complete the exercises, and mail back their answers. When the internet became common, correspondence courses were mostly replaced by online learning.
Most online learning courses follow an asynchronous model. Students have access to a learning management system (LMS), sometimes called a portal, where they can access course materials, assignments, and lectures. Although deadlines are assigned to tests and coursework, students are free to engage with the material at whatever time is most convenient. Pre-recorded lectures, reading material lists, and discussion boards make this possible.
Benefits of asynchronous learning
The most obvious benefit of asynchronous learning is flexibility. Students can study when and where they want to. That means you can study at 5 a.m. before the rest of the house is awake, during your lunch break, or late in the evening. Asynchronous learning allows you to choose a study time when you’re most alert, or simply when you have a break in an otherwise hectic schedule.
Asynchronous learning is also more easily tailored to the individual learner. You can spend extra time on a concept you find challenging or move quickly through topics you understand. You can review or listen to materials as many times as you want throughout a course. With asynchronous learning, you set the pace for your education.
The bulk of your Title IX certificate course is asynchronous, to make the program flexible and accessible to busy, working adults.
Benefits of synchronous learning
Let’s take a look at some of the specific benefits of learning in real-time with synchronous sessions:
- Peer Engagement and Collaborative Learning
Synchronous sessions allow students to learn from each other, and they offer room for personal relationship building with peers and the professor. You’ll find that as you work together toward solutions, you build a sense of community and collaboration.
- Student-Driven Learning
Synchronous live classes or office hours provide opportunities for students to ask questions and ensure they fully understand concepts before moving forward. Students can drive discussions and more directly steer their own learning.
- Inclusion of Relevant, Timely Material
Synchronous sessions provide an opportunity for professors to incorporate and discuss relevant, timely emerging industry news.
The Tulane approach: blending synchronous and asynchronous
Of course, many students choose online learning specifically because it is asynchronous. As a busy professional, you may not be able to commit to sitting in a classroom at the same time each week. You can, however, find time in your schedule to log on to an LMS and work through some assignments. The asynchronicity is what makes online learning accessible for professional adults who want to enhance their careers.
However, synchronous learning offers some benefits that are too valuable to miss. That’s why Tulane offers Title IX certificate students the opportunity to participate in two live, online classes per course. These synchronous classes are thoughtfully designed to complement a course’s asynchronous assignments. In the live classes, students get to know both faculty and other students. Students can ask questions in real-time, and professors can integrate timely news about Title IX issues. And, in deference to student schedules, these classes are also recorded so that you can experience them asynchronously as well.