Online learning programs fall under two categories: asynchronous learning programs and synchronous learning programs. If you’re new to distance learning, these terms might sound foreign, but they’re actually quite simple to decipher. Below we discussed the benefits of each type of learning.
Advantages of Asynchronous Online Learning
Asynchronous online learning consists of interactions that are delayed over time and that do not take place in real-time. Examples of tools used in asynchronous learning include email and discussion boards. In an asynchronous program, participants can access online learning materials and send messages to their professors and fellow students at any time.
Asynchronous learning programs are convenient because participants do not have to be online at the same time. One of the primary reasons why people sign-up for asynchronous programs is because of their flexibility, which makes them easier to combine with other commitments, such as a full-time job or childrearing. Asynchronous programs also make it easier for students and professors living in different time zones to communicate. Another advantage of asynchronous online learning is that students have more time to think about their professors’ questions and refine their responses prior to posting.
Advantages of Synchronous Online Learning
Synchronous online learning programs are becoming increasingly commonplace, especially because high-speed broadband Internet is now widely available. Synchronous learning programs require participants to communicate in real-time. The major benefits of synchronous programs are that they allow students and teachers to form learning communities and that they are more social in nature.
In synchronous online learning programs, students tend not to feel as isolated as they do in asynchronous programs, because they are able to collaborate and learn with teachers and other students in real-time. Furthermore, students can get answers to their questions right away, so it’s less frustrating than having to wait for delayed responses to their inquiries. Synchronous learning tools include live chat, instant messaging, webinars, shared whiteboards, and videoconferencing.
Which Type of Learning Program Is Right for You?
Asynchronous programs are the very reason why many people sign-up for online programs in the first place. They’re convenient, flexible, and enable students to juggle a myriad of commitments in addition to school. That being said, for students to be able to effectively collaborate and learn, they must feel like they’re a part of a learning community, and some students feel isolated in asynchronous online learning programs, because they don’t have as many opportunities to collaborate with their peers and professors.
In an asynchronous environment, it may be harder to get discussions going online when there are fewer participants involved at one time and the responses are delayed. So, if you thrive from real-time interaction and community learning, you may want to consider enrolling in a synchronous online learning program instead. However, if you have a busy schedule, don’t crave social interaction in your learning program, and need to fit your studies around other commitments, enrolling in an asynchronous online learning program is probably the right choice.