When something is synchronous, two or more things are happening at the same time, in synchronicity.
They are "in sync." Synchronous learning takes place when two or more people are communicating in real time. Sitting in a classroom, talking on the telephone, chatting via instant messaging are examples of synchronous communication.
When something is asynchronous, the meaning is opposite. Two or more things are not "in sync" and are happening at different times. Asynchronous learning is considered more flexible than synchronous learning. The teaching takes place at one time and is preserved for the learner to participate in at another time, whenever it is most convenient for the student.
Speaking of the concept in tech era when most of the learning in online the definitions and the impact of both the methods change drastically. Speaking of Synchronous and Asynchronous e-Learning, the definition for both changes something like this:
Synchronous e-learning involves online studies with various technologies in use like chat and videoconferencing. This kind of learning tool is real-time. It is like a virtual classroom which allows students to ask, and teachers to answer questions instantly, through instant messaging, which is why it is called synchronous. Rather than taking lessons alone, students associating themselves with synchronous e-learning software or online courses can easily interact with fellow students and their teachers during the course.
On the other hand, Asynchronous learning can be carried out even while the student is offline. Asynchronous e-learning involves coursework delivered via web, email and message boards that are then posted on online forums. In such cases, students ideally complete the course at their own pace, by using the internet merely as a support tool rather than volunteering exclusively for an e-learning software or online interactive classes.
Strategies for Synchronous eLearning
- Educators need to set the tone
Learning environment plays a key role when we speak of synchronous learning. To have an effective synchronous learning course is creating the ideal learning environment. Because the learners are going to be participating in a real time discussion or online presentation, the complete attention of students must be on the learning course; this means removing all distractions from the room when they are accessing the eLearning course, and setting aside enough time in their schedule to sit in for the entire online discussion. Make them aware of the expectations well in advance so that they know how to prepare for the event.
- Don’t Text Overload Learners
The ideal way to use the text in presentation is to highlight the key concepts and tit bits that need to be jotted down by the learner. Educators, please only include text for the key takeaways of the online presentation. Don’t overload their mental processes by writing out your eLearning script word for word on the screen, or giving them text passages for each story that you share. The only exception to this rule is, of course, when you have hearing impaired learners in your audience. If this is the case, then you may want to consider adding optional subtitles that can be turned on or off during the event.
- Create a flexible schedule
Mostly due to the nature of the pedagogy, synchronous learning courses typically stick to a schedule. However, this must not limit the flexibility that learners should have to put their lives on hold in order to participate in a virtual discussion. To help students with this educator must make the schedule as flexible as possible. Also, recording the events is a nice option so that absent learners can still get the information they need at a later time. Before you begin the eLearning course, conduct a survey to figure out the best days and times for your learners, so that you can create a schedule that works for them. Also, keep their busy personal and professional lives in mind when creating the deadlines for online assignments and eLearning assessments.
Strategies for Asynchronous eLearning
- Variety is the key
Integrating a wide range of online activities and exercises not only avoids dreaded learner boredom, but it also caters to a broad range of learning preferences and styles. Because of the nature of this method it can be difficult to cater to the personalized needs of the students so it’s important to incorporate different range of activities so that everyone gets to experience various varieties of activities.
For example, offering a text-only online course might exclude learners who prefer to learn via eLearning videos and simulations. This is why it’s essential to include a good mix of learning materials into your asynchronous learning strategy. Bear in mind that self-guided learners are more likely to disengage from the eLearning experience if the online course fails to grab and hold their interest.
- Solid Support Structure
Because asynchronous learning lacks face-to-face instruction its important that you must have a solid support system in place to assist those who need additional help with the subject matter, or even the learning management system. If students encounter a glitch or cannot log in to the eLearning platform, they should always have a way to get in touch with someone who can offer assistance.
- Create a collaborative online community.
Self-guided learners who are participating in asynchronous learning experiences the risk of feeling isolated. They are not engaging in real-time discussions on a regular basis. Thus, they are not able to collaborate with their peers and benefit from their experience as often. To help students with this, consider building an online community, such as a forum or blog, where learners can meet and share their ideas, concerns, and questions. You can also consider developing online exercises that require learners to team up. This can be done via web-based project management platforms, to complete the online assignment or solve a common challenge.
- Make it Easily Digestible
Your asynchronous learners are probably going to be accessing learning materials on-the-go. Therefore, you need to make the modules bite-sized, so that they can get the info they need as quickly as possible. This also gives them the ability to pause once they’ve completed a module and then pick up where they left off at a later time. Digestible learning materials help to avoid cognitive overload, as well, which is always a plus. Be sure to include a course map that allows learners to track their progress and quickly view which module is up next.
Benefits of Synchronous eLearning
- Making group activities possible
Done in real time, this approach enables the Instructors to interact with multiple students in real-time hence making group activities possible.
- Instructors can explain certain concepts when students are struggling
Because students get to interact with the instructor they can always clear the concepts and doubts they struggle with.
- Students can get immediate answers about any aspect of the learning process
Immediate queries are answered by the instructor because of the real time teaching that happens. This is one big advantage of this method of learning.