What’s the difference?
Synchronous interactions occur in real-time. These interactions more closely mimic a face-to-face environment, as learners receive instant responses. Asynchronous interactions occur with a delay. This delay may be as short as a few minutes or may be much longer.
When might you use one or the other?
When choosing between synchronous and asynchronous interactions in your course, it’s important to keep in mind the type of students and the type of course. Technological advancement has made it possible to implement synchronous communication in online courses (Watts, 2016). However, it’s important to remember that in online courses, students often expect asynchronous learning that they can access at their own time, rather than needing to be online at a specific time.
Pros/Cons of Both
Kung-Ming and Khoon-Seng (2009) discussed various advantages and disadvantages of both synchronous and asynchronous communication.
Asynchronous communication has the advantage of being flexible, in that learners can access the system when they have time and are also afforded more time to reflect prior to making a point of discussion. This is also valuable for courses that operate across several time zones, as students can access the course site at an appropriate time for them. Furthermore, asynchronous interaction has the ability to provide anonymity to students and be less intimidating than face-to-face interaction.
Synchronous communication provides immediate feedback and responses to learners. This is beneficial as it can serve to stimulate motivation for learners by interacting with other students and participants in the environment. It also allows students in an online environment to engage more with students in the virtual classroom.
|Synchronous Interaction Tools||Asynchronous Interaction Tools|
|Video conferencing||Discussion Board|
- Kung-Ming, T., & Khoon-Seng, S. (2009). Asynchronous vs. Synchronous Interaction. In P. Rogers, G. Berg, J. Boettcher, C. Howard, L. Justice, & K. Schenk (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, Second Edition (pp. 122-131). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. doi:10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch019
- Simandan, V.M. Asynchronous vs. Synchronous Interaction in Education. Retrieved from: http://www.simandan.com/asynchronous-vs-synchronous-interaction-in-education/
- Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Learning. eLearners. Retrieved from: https://www.elearners.com/education-resources/degrees-and-programs/synchronous-vs-asynchronous-classes/
- Watts, L. (2016). Synchronous and asynchronous communication in distance learning. Quarterly Review Of Distance Education, 17(1), 23-32.
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