Difference Between Synchronous & Asynchronous Learning

  • Anagha Vallikat
    Anagha Vallikat

With the beginning of online education in the digital era, we have been introduced to several new and unique online learning technologies. These technologies have brought revolutionary changes to our education system and have made education easier and more accessible. It has also introduced a set of new terms into the vocabulary of education.

Two of the most discussed terms, which have come under recent focus, are synchronous and asynchronous learning. Both these terms are associated with different modes of online learning and are distinctly different from each other. Hence, before discussing the difference between synchronous and asynchronous learning, it is important to know what these terms refer to.

What is Synchronous Learning?

This is the most commonly used form of teaching you will see in today’s virtual world. In this form of learning, students can learn from teachers, other students, and peers in real-time, without having to be present face to face.
In the synchronous type of learning, students can clarify their doubts from other students, friends, and teachers during or after their classes. From instant live lectures to instructive video meetings and interactive webinars sessions, most kinds of learning today fall under this category.

What is Asynchronous Learning?

Asynchronous Learning is a form of education that allows students to complete the course at their own pace. This type of learning does not take place at the same time or the same place as the learner. It is up to students when and where they want to take their classes.

In this sort of learning, students learn from instructions such as pre-recorded lecture sessions or task-based games. It facilitates students to easily connect with their peers or instructors through emails or online discussion forums and get their doubts cleared.

Difference between Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning

We have listed some of the major differences between synchronous and asynchronous learning below, to give you a better idea about these terms. The differences are as follows:

1.Classroom

In synchronous learning, the process of teaching and learning takes place in digital spaces fashioned as traditional classrooms. These classes are mostly held via online mode, where teachers and students interact face to face in real-time. These lessons require more attention and are focused on learning. It also helps teachers constantly monitor the progress of the students.

In asynchronous learning, the students are provided with pre-recorded classes or lectures, which means that the interaction between teachers and students cannot occur in real-time. However, recorded classes allow students to take the classes from anywhere and any time, at their convenience.

2.Communication

Within the synchronous mode of learning, students can communicate with their teachers using phone calls, real-time messages, or speak directly during classes. This helps in the easy exchange of information and important updates in real-time.

On the other hand, phone calls are replaced by recorded voice messages in asynchronous learning, and herein lies one of the biggest differences between synchronous and asynchronous learning. These recorded messages might or might not successfully explain the doubt of the students, and in most cases, do not address every student’s unique doubts.

3.Feedbacks

In the synchronous mode of learning, the students receive immediate responses and feedback from their teachers, instructors, or peers. Similarly, the teachers can address the doubts of their students on-spot and ensure their continuous and uninterrupted learning during the online classes.

While in the asynchronous mode of learning, students need to wait patiently to receive a reply from the concerned teacher of their course. The students need to note down all their doubts and queries in a single message and send them all together to their concerned teacher. Also, responses are not received immediately. This makes the exchange of information take more time and effort than usual, making the process disadvantageous for active learning among students.

4.Training

The type of training received in the respective mode of learning is one of the major differences between synchronous and asynchronous learning. In the synchronous mode of learning, live, in-person training can be provided to students which enhances the efficiency of learning. This process of one-to-one training can enable the teachers to focus on individual students better.

On the other hand, in the asynchronous mode of learning, in-person training is replaced by pre-recorded online training videos that do not offer any live experience to the students. Such training videos are prepared in advance before they are made available for the students and hence, fail to address the specific needs of students. Further, no changes can be made to such videos after they have been sent to the students.

5.Pace of Learning

The learning process of synchronous mode is group-paced, which means that the learning speed of a student depends on the speed of a particular group of students who are being mentored by a common teacher or groups of teachers. This might be disadvantageous for students who naturally display a slower pace of learning.

While in the asynchronous mode of learning, students can determine and follow their own pace. In this case, the asynchronous mode is more preferable for such students.

Conclusion

Synchronous and asynchronous modes of learning have introduced considerable changes in today’s education system, and they are being promoted more due to the dominance of online learning around the globe. Both these modes come with their respective sets of pros and cons. Although they have a few common aspects, the differences between these modes of learning are more noteworthy, and learning about them will help every student choose the mode they think fits.