Asynchronous Learning Vs Synchronous Learning
With the dawn of digitalization, the methods of delivering education have also completely altered. Gone are the days when students and teachers needed to sit face-to-face in classrooms to interact. The initiative of virtual classrooms marks a pioneering change in the perception of education and has made learning a global affair.
Although traditional learning can never be replaced, e-learning is indeed a landmark initiative in the realm of academics. Online education can be grouped into two categories: Synchronous Learning and Asynchronous Learning.
So, what is asynchronous online learning and synchronous learning? Synchronous learning means engaging multiple people at the same time, where there is real-time interaction either in a classroom or on online platforms such as a zoom call or a web-conference. Asynchronous learning, on the other hand, implies learning that does not engage everyone at once, and there is no real-time interaction between people.
The resources and study material is shared through online means such as recorded lectures, emails, etc. and there is no constraint of place or time for the students or teachers. Well, here is in-depth synchronous e-learning vs asynchronous e-learning comparison:
Asynchronous learning has its roots in correspondence education, which made education available to students living in distant places. Correspondence learning made use of letters, but when schools and colleges invested in technology in the early ’80s, distance learning took the online route.
Advantages of Asynchronous Learning
1. Freedom and Flexibility
The most appealing aspect of Asynchronous learning is the flexibility it provides to the students as well as the instructors. A computer and an internet connection is all that is needed to access the study material from anywhere across the globe. There is no restraint of time or place, and the students can schedule their studies according to their comfort.
This extends the reach of education to even those who have full-time jobs or are too old to attend a school or college. This also keeps stress in check as one can study according to one’s convenience, and there’s no pressure of performing at a predefined rate.
2. Students Decide the Pace of Learning
This type of learning is self-paced as the students learn at a speed they’re comfortable in. The students have ample time to review the notes and study thoroughly, unlike traditional classrooms, where the response is expected to be instant.
This increases the efficiency of learning and also protects the self-esteem of students who cannot keep up with other students in a class. Thus it empowers the students by making them the controller of their learning experience, and the instructors are also saved from the burden and pressure that teachers mostly face in on-campus teaching.
3. Comfortable and Safe
Nowadays, social anxiety is a very common issue amongst the youth and students mostly don’t prefer face-to-face interactions, even if it’s happening online. Asynchronous learning is especially suitable for people who prefer selective interaction. The student has his own comfortable space to study, and as a result, so many social obstacles that inhibit learning are removed.
This puts every student at an equal level as those who are socially apt usually do better than the quiet ones leading to low self-esteem in introvert students. Here, however, the focus is solely on performance in academics and how efficiently one can process information.
4. Availability of Information
The material shared in asynchronous learning is always available for reuse, and the students can look for any information, anytime, and from anywhere. Its reach is also wider as compared to other modes as once the lecture is recorded, be it audio or a video, it can be sent to any part of the world, even to places where there is no internet.
DVDs, TVs, and all other electronic devices that can store information offline can be used for asynchronous learning. Students living in the most remote parts of the world can access the notes, videos, or audios of the professors and earn a degree.
5. Mass Learning
The reach of asynchronous learning is to a huge group of learners, ranging from different age groups to different genders, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds. Thus teaching and learning can take place on a very large scale, without putting in much investment as there isn’t much need for instructors to keep a constant eye on their learners.
This mode of education has made mass-learning possible with ease and comfort. The structuring of these courses is also comparatively easier and takes a lot less time than the traditional ones.
Disadvantages of asynchronous learning
While some might prefer the absence of interaction, for others, it can become a cause of concern. This lack of a more human characteristic can make the students feel isolated and also limit the scope of growth that comes from real-time interaction, feedback, and discussions. These courses are more suited for people who only wish to get a diploma or degree without much hassle due to time or other constraints.
For those who want to get the most out of their learning experience, asynchronous learning is not the right choice. Observational learning and other forms of social training that are necessary for the overall development are completely excluded.
2. Disinterestedness and Procrastination
This type of learning can lead to lack of motivation in students who function better in groups or with other people. Also, this type of learning is the most prone to procrastination and other negligent behaviours. Moreover, the students sometimes even fail to complete the course on time.
In real-time interaction, teachers, as well as students, keep a check on each other. In overall, they enrich the learning experience through collaborative efforts. Although it’s quick and convenient, it still can lead to boredom. It can also lead to superficial attempts on the part of instructors as well as students.
3. Requires Time-management Skills
Asynchronous learning might seem easy, but most students lose interest mid-way and fail to complete the course in time. It isn't easy to remain passionate about distance learning, especially without direct interaction with instructors and fellow students. Only those students who have good time-management skills, focus, commitment, and a clear goal in sight can make the most of the course.
In a face-to-face environment, a lecture and in the online platform, webinars, zoom calls, and video-conferencing are examples of synchronous learning.
Advantages of synchronous learning
1. Real-time Interaction
Be it in a real classroom or a virtual one; the benefits of face-to-face interaction can never be dismissed. Discussions can be engaging and informative for the entire class, even for those who do not like to participate. By listening to different viewpoints, students can get better clarity about their own perceptions.
The most important extension to the educational use of technology is the emergence of global classrooms. It transcends distance and has made quality education available to even students living in remote areas. Moreover, real-time presence, even if online leads to increased awareness and involvement.
This mode of education is the most affordable of all because the instructor does not need to be present in-person at all times. The instructors and students can get the experience of a real classroom without actually being present next to each other. This saves a lot of money for the students and allows them to enroll in multiples courses at half the on-campus price.
Virtual synchronous learning ensures that all the aspects of traditional learning are preserved, such as instant feedback and group discussions while saving the money spent on commuting and living away from home.
3. Dynamic Learning
Real-time interaction is a dynamic experience both for the teachers as well as learners. The constant activity ensures the development of new skills and the enhancement of existing ones. Thus, activity ensures progress and makes the most of the learning experience. The students feel included and learn collaboration skills even without having to be present at one place.
Virtual classrooms provide the same competitive environment which encourages students to perform better. The use of technology also promotes scientific knowledge and understanding, which will be of great use in future endeavors.
4. Instructional Depth
The communication between students and instructors is frequent, which ensures progress as well as timely completion of the assigned work. Regular discussions not only help the students in identifying the diverse understandings of a subject, but it also helps in knowing how credible the instructor is.
In turn, the instructor also gets to know which students are performing well and who need extra guidance or help. This keeps a balance in the learning process and also makes sure that no student is left behind. Moreover, students can ask questions and clear doubts frequently when instructors are available.
5. Improved Outcomes
The best way to know the success of a class is through the results that are obtained in the end. Synchronous learning, be it through traditional or online modes has proved to deliver exceptional outcomes. This is due to the joint effort of the students and instructors. Ob virtual platforms, the instructors infer the performance of each student through the data available to them, such as attendance, participation in discussions, etc.
The instructor further checks how frequently a student is putting forth queries. All this helps the instructor in formulating a personalized plan, keeping individual requirements in view. This safeguards the standard of education and also makes sure that the success rate of the students is increased.
Disadvantages of synchronous learning
1. Rigid Schedule
Synchronous learning might be possible from home, but it does not provide the liberty of time. The schedule for conducting classes, discussions, and meetings is strict. Moreover, those with jobs might face certain challenges in managing time. If flexibility is a major requirement, then this learning is not ideal. It is for those who work full-time and in shifts.
Since the students in online classes are sometimes from different countries, the time-zones will also vary. This can cause difficulty for some as a class happening at 4 p.m. for one student might be at 5 a.m. for another.
2. Technical Issues
A working internet connection is of prime importance to both the students and instructors. Even a single technical error can lead to a temporary inconvenience or a serious mishap. Since assignments are to be submitted online, one has to adhere to the deadlines or marks strictly can be deducted. Sometimes people with jobs have to travel from one place to another, and they rely on the batteries of their electronic devices. Also, sometimes there is a bad network, and slow internet and the students can miss out on important information. In the worst-case scenario, this can happen during an exam.
3. Instructor controlled
One major drawback of synchronous learning is that the pace of learning is determined by the teacher. All the students are expected to learn and perform at the same speed, and this can be unfair to some. This involves those students who don't have much time to invest in their studies.
Now, this can be due to jobs, or multiple courses can find this very challenging. Some students prefer self-regulated courses and excel better in more relaxed environments than the one synchronous learning provides.
So above-listed were the advantages and disadvantages of synchronous and asynchronous learning. Usually, a combination of both is preferred where the plus-points of both the modes are employed, and the negatives counterbalanced. But still, the two modes are quite different from each other in terms of delivery and conduct.
When it comes to online synchronous learning, it builds a face-to-face environment for a better interactive session. However, asynchronous learning gives plenty of time for reflection and self-guided studies. Also, it can be moulded according to the convenience and requirements of the student.