In today’s elearning environment the type of learning that takes place is generally divided into one of two categories: synchronous and asynchronous. Both strategies have their own pros and cons, and the technique that is right for a student greatly depends upon their method of absorbing the information that is being provided.
What is asynchronous learning?
Asynchronous learning can be carried out even when the student or teacher is offline. Coursework and communications delivered via email and messages posted on community forums are perfect examples of asynchronous elearning. In these instances, students will typically complete the lessons on their own and merely use the internet as a support tool rather than venturing online solely for interactive classes.
A student is able to follow the curriculum at their own pace, without having to worry about scheduling conflicts. This may be a perfect option for users who enjoy taking their time with each lesson plan in the curriculum and would prefer to research topics on their own. However, those who may lack the motivation to do the coursework on their own may find that they do not receive significant benefit from asynchronous learning tools. Asynchronous learning can also lead to feelings of isolation, as there is no real interactive educational environment.
Ideally, effective elearning courses should include both asynchronous and synchronous learning activities. This allows students and teachers to benefit from the different delivery formats regardless of their schedules or preferred learning methods. This approach provides students with access to immediate help if needed, while still giving them the ability to learn at their own pace.
The Benefits of Asynchronous Learning
Asynchronous learning is a helpful option for all learners, but especially for remote ones. When learning asynchronously, students interact with learning content at their convenience and can delve deeper into topics that interest them.
Students can access materials on their own time. Asynchronous learning gives students the flexibility to learn at a time that works for their own learning styles and within their schedules. This is particularly helpful now, as students navigate pandemic-related financial, health, and mental challenges.
Students learn at their own pace. When learning asynchronously, students engage more directly with the material they find most interesting and/or challenging—pausing lessons they find confusing, rewinding and replaying the most salient content, and proceeding at the pace that works best for them. When instructors use collaborative tools like Eduflow, they can further enhance student engagement with learning flows and interactive content designed for individual learners.
All types of learners have equal access and attention. An asynchronous format produces uniquely empowered students who take control over their learning in a way that might not have been possible in a purely synchronous environment. Asynchronous learning prevents more reserved students from getting bulldozed by louder voices as they might in a live environment. It essentially levels the playing field, offering each student the same opportunity to control their learning.
It’s more cost-effective and scalable for instructors. Rather than teach the same lesson multiple times to multiple classes, instructors can create a single lesson for each section. This frees up time and resources for instructors to be more personally available to individual students.
Challenges of Asynchronous Learning
In a completely asynchronous environment, students miss the camaraderie that comes from real-time conversation and face-to-face (or screen-to-screen) interaction. The solitary nature of asynchronous learning can be detrimental to student’s mental health and academic results, if it’s not paired with some sort of real-time follow-up.
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