While team-based learning methods are popular at all levels, asynchronous learning also became a preferred way of learning because of the flexibility it offers. Experts believe asynchronous learning is here to stay and can positively contribute to student success (St. Amour, 2020).
Here’s what we will be covering in this article:
- What does asynchronous learning mean?
- 7 advantages of asynchronous learning
- 5 Challenges of Asynchronous Learning
- How can we bridge the gap between synchronous and asynchronous learning?
- What is the difference between synchronous and asynchronous learning?
- 10 Best Asynchronous Learning Tools for your Course
What does Asynchronous Learning mean?
Asynchronous learning allows students to learn at their own pace within a certain time period. Learners don’t have to be physically present at a specific time or location to take part in the course. They can access notes, lecture recordings, and assignments online.
Some asynchronous learning examples include learning by correspondence, through audio, video, and other media. A combination of online resources and self-directed learning makes asynchronous learning courses possible. Students are able to log on at any time and complete assignments as they see fit without worrying about deadlines or missing class time due to travel or other commitments.
7 Advantages of Asynchronous Learning
The advent of the internet has made it possible for students to take courses and earn degrees without ever setting foot on a campus. By using the right tools, online learning can be facilitated in an effective manner giving students a positive learning experience.
1. Gives students more time to review concepts
While traditional classrooms are set up in a way that encourages active participation, asynchronous learning allows students to review notes and assignments as they go. Asynchronous learning methods account for students learning at different rates, those who may hesitate to share their opinion in class, or may be taking the class from a different location . This gives them more time to practice their understanding of the material and make sure they're ready for testing.
2. Allows students to debate and discuss in a peaceful manner
In asynchronous learning experiences, learners can use online discussion boards to share and learn from their peers. With this students get a chance to hear what their peers' understanding of the topic is while putting forward their own. It also helps them get out of their comfort zone by interacting with others who might not share their same background or experiences.
3. More opt-ins because of the convenience and flexibility
Instructors realize the importance of creating flexible learning environments as they better fit their students' needs. For example, an online class may have a short weekly assignment due to its lack of in-person meetings. This allows students who might have difficulty getting together in person many times during the week to still participate fully in class discussions and learn from other students' answers.
4. Open line of communication
In an asynchronous learning environment, students who are struggling with a particular topic can get help right away without having to wait until the next class session. This keeps them engaged with their course material while helping the instructor build an inclusive course culture.
5. Increased productivity
Asynchronous learning allows instructors to work more efficiently because they don't need to spend time preparing and delivering lectures or answering student questions in real time. This allows them to focus on other important tasks such as grading papers and preparing for class.
6. Ground to test new teaching methods
Instructors have been known to use asynchronous learning methods as an opportunity to experiment with new teaching methods that might not work well in a traditional classroom setting. The ability to test and implement new learning methods allows instructors to dive deep into creativity to grow as a professional while also enacting deep learning.
Asynchronous learning courses can be accessed from any location with an internet connection, meaning they can be used by individuals or groups of any size. This makes them ideal for corporate training programs that involve multiple employees in different locations or instructors to scale their course offerings, as well as the number of students they can teach at once.
5 Challenges of Asynchronous Learning
While the convenience and reach of asynchronous learning is unparalleled, it comes with a set of challenges like any other method:
1. Lack of interaction
Since learning is not real-time, students may not be motivated to ask their questions as they arise. If the students find it difficult to retain information without having someone present with them during the process of learning, then they may not gain as much from the learning experience.
2. Limited scope for collaboration
An asynchronous course requires much more independent work than a traditional classroom setting does—and that means students are often on their own when it comes to getting the most out of their courses. Due to the learning being self-paced, students may not get opportunities to work as a group.
3. Doesn’t suit all types of learners or courses
Some students are very social, and they learn better in an environment with other people. They need to have the opportunity to ask questions and get feedback from their peers and instructors. This type of environment is best suited for synchronous learning.
4. Lower levels of engagement with the course material
Since students have complete control over when they will do an assignment or take an exam, they may not feel as motivated to complete it on time. For example, if you assign a reading in class and tell students they must finish it before Monday, more likely they’ll come prepared for the next lecture. This may not be the case with asynchronous learning courses, where the students may or may not access the material to gain full understanding of the topic.
Without regular deadlines for assignments or tests, students often find it easy to put off work until the last minute or even not do it at all! This makes it difficult for teachers to provide feedback on student work since they can’t see how far along each student is in completing assignments or writing papers.
How can we bridge the gap between synchronous and asynchronous learning?
Hybrid learning is gaining popularity as a means to bridge the gap between synchronous and asynchronous learning. It is important to find ways that will help students get exposure to both the sets of learning. The idea is to find a common point, and not make it compete against each other.
The best way to combine and achieve synchronous and asynchronous learning advantages is by flipping the classroom. In this model, students learn new material outside of class and spend class time applying what they learned or working on problems related to the topic at hand. This approach works well for students who may need more time to complete assignments on their own or who would like guidance from their instructors before submitting work.
Combining synchronous and asynchronous learning gives students an opportunity to learn in both environments, in a way that suits them best. For example, if there is a topic that requires more practice or real-world experience, you might want to practice with other students online first before going into the classroom setting.
Another benefit of combining asynchronous and synchronous learning is that it allows instructors to focus on their strengths as teachers. For example, if you're great at teaching through videos and demonstrations but not so great at connecting with students one-on-one, you could use your video library as a resource for your students when they need help after class or over email—and then spend more time mentoring students who are struggling in person during office hours or in small groups.
💡Pro Tip: Include live webinars every week but also provide videos and reading materials for those who want to try their hand at self-paced learning through an online course platform.
💡Pro Tip: If there's an assignment that needs to be done together in class, then you can make it available online so that each student has access to it at their own pace.
What is the difference between synchronous and asynchronous learning?
10 Best Asynchronous Learning Tools for your Course
With the right tools asynchronous methods can be adapted in any type of classroom setting to deliver a valuable and engaging learning experience for your students.
1. Learning management system or LMS
Learning Management Systems (LMS) are the backbone of asynchronous learning. They're used to store course materials, track student progress, and provide a way for students to communicate with teachers and peers. LMSs are platforms that allow instructors to deliver content and communicate with students outside of the classroom setting. They're usually used for courses that require more interaction than traditional lectures like online classes, video tutorials and so on.
2. Discussion boards
Discussion boards work as online discussion forums where instructors can post questions for students to participate. They are flexible, easy to use, and allow you to create your own structure. Once you've set up your discussion board, you can easily monitor the posts and comments made by students so that you know what they're talking about and how well they understand the material.
Discussion boards allow students to learn at their own pace while still communicating with their peers and instructors. They can be used in Social Sciences or any problem-based learning course.
Blogs/Wikis/eBooks are great ways to create content that isn't time-sensitive, which means it can be accessed from anywhere, anytime. If you're an instructor, this is an excellent way to share resources with students or provide links to useful websites; and even for a student, this can be a great way to organize information and create study guides.
4. eLearning videos
The gap between learning a new skill and the learner has been reduced to just a tap of a button. A recent survey revealed that 58% use digital videos to learn a new skill. eLearning platforms range from YouTube, which is free to Coursera, Udemy, SkillShare and Masterclass which have a subscription or pay per use model.
5. Asynchronous audio tools
Asynchronous audio tools like an online training program, audio book or a podcast that offer learners to listen to the recordings in their own time. This type of training usually requires more effort from the learner because they have to take notes and follow along with what they're hearing.
6. Digital library
Access to a digital library like OverDrive or Global Public Library allows students to access a wide range of books, journals, and magazines of your interest. It also helps students to discover and learn about new topics on their own.
Demonstrations are particularly useful for conceptual knowledge that is hard to explain in words or for visualizing abstract ideas. Demonstrations can be used for self-paced learning and can be used in conjunction with other asynchronous tools such as videos and interactive tutorials.
Simulations are a great way to learn how to make decisions and solve problems in real-world situations. They can also be used to teach students how to work as a team, which is a skill that many employers look for in their employees.
Games are a great way to learn new skills in asynchronous learning. They can be as simple as Angry Birds, where you learn finger coordination and judgment, or play chess, where you need to strategize, plan and think several steps ahead. In fact, there are games that teach us how to manage our finances, become more social and even develop critical thinking skills.
Quizlet is a great tool for learning vocabulary in a fun way. You can create sets of flashcards for each new word you come across and test yourself on them whenever you want (it even remembers which ones you got wrong). It's also an online game that helps you memorize things by making them into games (e.g., matching pairs).
Create powerful blended learning experiences with Kritik!
Kritik's asynchronous learning technology is fundamental to any enterprise learning endeavor, so whether it is a small business or an institution training program, you can start building a powerful blended learning experience today.
Schedule a demo with Kritik today to learn more about asynchronous learning, and other endeavors.
St. Amour, M. (2020). Don't dismiss asynchronous learning, experts say. Improve it. Retrieved 24 August 2022, from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/09/16/dont-dismiss-asynchronous-learning-experts-say-improve-it