Online learning makes it easy for people of all ages to study in new and exciting ways. However, the best type of online learning comes down to personal preference and what you can realistically complete in a given period of time.
There are two main types of online delivery when it comes to classes, synchronous and asynchronous. Both of them have advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to learn more about the difference between synchronous and asynchronous classes and help students find the best match.
What is the main difference between synchronous and synchronous classes?
While there are many differences between the two types of online learning, the main difference between them boils down to timing. While synchronous classes run in real-time, with students and teachers attending together from various locations, asynchronous classes are based on a more relaxed schedule, which allows students to access class materials from different locations during different hours.
Synchronous virtual classrooms are very much similar to traditional classrooms, with live discussions and study schedules. On the other hand, even though asynchronous classrooms still allow students and instructors to communicate with each other and digest the information, they are able to do so on their own time, without set schedules.
How do synchronous classes work?
Synchronous classes allow students to engage with materials at the same time as their peers as they connect to the Internet at the same time. They typically use web and video conferencing technologies such as Zoom or Google Hangouts to create virtual learning spaces.
Teachers may choose synchronous classes over an asynchronous format because this type of online learning allows a more conversational approach that’s very similar to real classrooms.
Synchronous classrooms typically incorporate various interactive components such as surveys, polls, chat rooms, and shared documents. Even though these classes might not provide the exact same opportunities as in-person classes, they allow students to stand out by showing themselves online and participating in the discussion in real-time.
Synchronous classes pros
- Dynamic learning opportunities
- Better engagement with immediate responses
- Direct communication with teachers
Synchronous classes cons
- They require a quiet space to log on
- Set schedules
- Need for good Internet connection and Webcam
How do asynchronous classes work?
Asynchronous classes make it easy to study in a self-paced manner. Learners can connect with materials, instructors, and their peers on their own schedules, and even though these classes still have submission deadlines, they can be completed over an extended period of time.
These classes typically feature prerecorded lectures that students can watch independently as well as audio and video files. Teachers can post quizzes on the material to make sure students follow up. Discussions are also available in asynchronous classes, even though they are not in real-time. In most cases, a discussion board is set to provide students with space for social learning and an interactive experience.
Asynchronous classes pros
- More accessible and flexible
- Self-paced curriculum
- Offer students more time to engage with materials
Asynchronous classes cons
- Less immersive than synchronous classes
- May create independent learning difficulties
- Disconnected social environment