Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Learning: What’s the Difference?

Do students prefer synchronous or asynchronous learning?

Last spring, a team of researchers in the United States and Canada surveyed 4,789 undergraduates in 95 countries, finding that 84% of those students (recruited via Instagram) preferred synchronous delivery over asynchronous delivery for its qualities. immersive and social. Unlike non-traditional distance learners before COVID-19, who valued asynchronous lessons for their flexibility, today’s students favor face-to-face teaching and connecting with others.

The isolation induced by the pandemic has made synchronous teaching particularly attractive. This type of education is also familiar to students and instructors because it resembles traditional classroom formats, according to a study published by Frontiers in Education.

The last few months have seen the growing appeal of an evolving system that goes by various names, including “synchronous mixed” learning, “synchromodal” learning and “HyFlex” learning. In this learning style, instructors blend in-person and online elements, with the goal of integrating the best of asynchronous and synchronous teaching. In this format, students seeking an in-person classroom experience interact with distant students who prefer that same experience in real time, but from a distance.

RELATED: Find out how small IT departments can manage large-scale HyFlex classrooms.

Instructors can also convert synchronous lessons to an asynchronous modality by translating their course material into video chats, assigned readings, shared documents, uploaded media, online quizzes, and discussion boards for flexible viewing.

However, some educators find mixed synchronous learning environments difficult. In addition to the potential technical issues, challenges include knowing how to communicate with students in person and remotely at the same time, as well as integrating traditional materials with technologies such as chat rooms, virtual whiteboards, and desktops. cameras.

Still, researchers find synchronous hybrid learning to be a pragmatic alternative for navigating pandemic uncertainties in education. In a 2020 report, Julia Priess-Buchheit of the Coburg University of Applied Sciences in Germany concluded that when instructors and students learn to use technology to communicate, SHL can be “a solution between extremes that balances different needs in times of social distancing. “

As experts predicted over a decade ago, this may well be the alternative education of the future.

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Norma A. Roth