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Asynchronous Learning

  • 5 Min Read

Asynchronous learning is a type of remote education with a flexible schedule. Students can learn the online course materials whenever they want, allowing them to follow the curriculum at a more comfortable pace that suits their needs.

Technology is used to streamline an asynchronous class, which includes video lectures, discussion forums, and virtual teaching aids. Asynchronous education encourages a high degree of autonomy and nurtures a proactive, inclusive, and comprehensive learning experience.


What is asynchronous learning?

An asynchronous learning system is made up of online classes that students can access at any time and place. Since there are no real-time lectures in asynchronous teaching, students complete their studies based on a highly flexible schedule.

This convenience and ease of access has helped asynchronous learning gain popularity among educators. Now, it’s being used in K-12 schools, universities, and corporate learning around the world.

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Asynchronous learning activities

1. Video and audio learning tools

Asynchronous learning often uses multimedia as part of each lesson. For example, the course materials may be explained in a series of video and audio clips that are uploaded online for students to access.

These visual and audio tools for asynchronous learning help to make the classes memorable. Students may be more familiar with the course materials after watching or hearing about them.

2. Online discussion forums

The asynchronous learning system has online forums for students and teachers to communicate openly. Participants can use the forums to exchange ideas or post theories and reflections about the course materials.

Since the chats are ongoing, students can join any time they complete an online lecture. Every asynchronous interaction enhances the learning experience, inspiring new ideas, thoughtful questions, and unique perspectives.

3. Curated course materials

In asynchronous online teaching, additional readings help students understand the course materials better. Instructors can curate a diverse collection of supplementary reading and resources to aid the learning experience.

Using cloud-based technology, all the course materials can be organized clearly and coherently in place. Students can easily reference the information, building their knowledge before or after every lesson.

4. Remote feedback and assessments

Self-guided assessments are important asynchronous learning activities. Once students have finished a module, their knowledge is tested through online quizzes. These evaluations can be completed whenever the students are ready. Educators can let students take as long as they need to complete them. They can also attach time limits or restrict the number of times students can submit assignments and quizzes. The right approach will vary on a course-by-course basis.

Teachers can exchange feedback remotely with students based on their progress on assessments. This allows students to understand how they performed in the course and seek additional help if necessary.

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Synchronous vs. asynchronous learning

Synchronous and asynchronous learning share many similarities. Both terms can be used to describe a type of remote learning that takes place online. The main difference between synchronous and asynchronous learning is when the lessons will be scheduled.

In synchronous learning, courses are conducted in real time and students attend each class at specific time. For asynchronous learning, educators prepare the classes are prepared in advance, which allows students to learn on a more flexible schedule.

What is synchronous learning?

Synchronous learning describes any situation where the teaching and learning occur simultaneously. This type of learning may take place at a scheduled time online via video conferencing or a live-streamed lecture. If it’s a blended or hybrid course, it could also include a traditional classroom setting with in-person attendance.

Difference between synchronous and asynchronous learning

Since synchronous learning happens in real time, it creates a dynamic environment in which educators and learners can interact with each other. Compared to asynchronous learning, the synchronous format may allow for more immediate feedback and live discussions.

For asynchronous learning, educators prepare the classes are prepared in advance, which allows students to learn on a more flexible schedule. This can make asynchronous learning more more scalable and affordable, allowing many people to access courses without the lesson without travel or venue costs.

Is synchronous or asynchronous learning better?

Synchronous learning is still used in many schools, but it’s no longer the only method of teaching. Academic institutions have embraced online asynchronous technology, given the appeal it has for a wider demographic of students.

There are distinct benefits for both synchronous and asynchronous learning. The preferred technique depends on each institutions’ online learning style, based on whether they want to prioritize real-time or on-demand courses.

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Benefits of asynchronous learning

Asynchronous learning is unique from other teaching methods. An asynchronous course doesn’t need to adhere to a rigid schedule, removing the logistical hurdles that come with in-person, real-time forms of education. Without these restrictions, a remote asynchronous format offers significant benefits in terms of time, efficiency, and productivity.

As remote classrooms gain mainstream popularity, more academic institutions are switching to a partially or fully asynchronous format of learning. The benefits of asynchronous learning are being applied to classrooms across all levels, from K-12 schools to university campuses.

1. Flexible learning schedule

Asynchronous distance learning accommodates students with busy schedules, allowing them to access the course materials at virtually any time. With the aid of asynchronous technology, real-time classes no longer need to be the only teaching option.

Students can focus clearly on their studies by picking a suitable time to learn without distractions. Whether there’s a preference for early mornings or late evenings, the timing is completely within their control.

2. Self-paced online learning

Asynchronous online courses can make it easier for students to manage their learning progress. Quick learners will enjoy studying in advance with the most up-to-date lessons. Others may prefer to learn at a more relaxed pace, absorbing the content in a steady and methodical manner.

Even for courses that must be completed by a deadline, students are able to approach learning at their own speed. Instead of feeling rushed, they can spend extra time reviewing each asynchronous lesson to make sure they understand everything.

3. Independent learning experience

Asynchronous online learning promotes a high degree of autonomy in students. They’re encouraged to learn, study and troubleshoot questions on their own, although online guidance is available if needed. This learning style can build discipline, independence, and problem-solving skills.

As the students learn each asynchronous instruction independently, they’re more engaged in critical thinking. This helps to increase their familiarity, confidence, and understanding of the course materials.

Written by

Haley Wilson

Haley Wilson is a Content Marketing Manager at D2L, specializing in the corporate learning space. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Guelph as well as a Master of Arts focused in history from Wilfrid Laurier University.

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Table of Contents
  1. What is asynchronous learning?
  2. Asynchronous learning activities
  3. Synchronous vs. asynchronous learning
  4. Benefits of asynchronous learning

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