September 29, 2020
Asynchronous Learning Platform: What It Is and Why You Need to Know About It
One of the hottest topics these days is asynchronous learning. It’s an essential component in today’s learning environment and learning needs. If you’re not familiar with this term yet, then it may be best to start by taking a look at its counterpart: synchronous learning.
Synchronous learning is characterized by a highly structured learning environment. This environment is orchestrated by the instructor. You can think of it as a typical classroom where a teacher stands in front of a group of students and delivers a lesson. The learners listen and participate in class activities at the same time, creating an interactive learning environment.
This type of learning isn’t always done in the classroom. Synchronous learning can extend to remote learning as long as it is still centered on a teacher who has the students’ attention. It can also include online classrooms that utilize the idea of breakout rooms, which is when the teacher divides the class into groups to complete tasks together. So, we can see that the idea of synchronous learning can still fit in with today’s networked learning environment.
In fact, there are many advantages to synchronous learning methods, even in our current online-centric state. First of all, there’s value to the Socratic method of live-action discourse that you cannot replicate if students always have as much time as they need to research their answers. It also gives a sense of community because students feel connected when they are in a traditional classroom structure. Furthermore, it’s also good because it allows students to receive more immediate feedback when researching complex issues.
Merely implementing synchronous learning in an online course can have its drawbacks, too. Chief among these is the technical aspect: it’s incredibly difficult to keep a class in synch when each learner is faced with their own issues of network unreliability, a multitude of memory-hungry learning apps that crash systems, and a labyrinth of camera/microphone/speaker issues. A good amount of time is wasted in each lesson due to these types of issues.
With EdApp Learning Management System, you can easily implement synchronous learning by using our Virtual Classroom feature. This tool lets you schedule video conferences through Zoom or Microsoft Teams all within the EdApp platform.
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Key Points on Synchronous Learning
· Allows live-action instruction and discourse
· Fosters a sense of community
· Enables instant feedback on complex topics
· Suffers from technical issues when attempting online
Synchronous applications are only part of the story. Let’s now consider asynchronous learning and see how it can help you realize your learning objectives and meet the learning needs of your team.
In contrast to the rigidity of synchronous learning, asynchronous learning is learning that happens at the student’s pace. Using a project based learning method, the instructor will assign instructional content, set out tasks that need completing, and provide exams that can be completed when on the learner’s time. Teachers often have multiple sources they can draw from to design their courses, so they can get instructional content from pre-existing online books and videos and mix those in with third-party learning technologies and mobile learning applications. The result is a very flexible and open learning environment. There are many other asynchronous learning examples you can learn from.
Asynchronous learning activities can happen both in online and offline classes. An example of asynchronous learning happening offline is when a student registers for an independent study course. Another example is when a teacher assigns a book report or research project that allows students to choose their own path when completing it.
Asynchronous learning has several good learning outcomes over synchronous learning. The first advantage is in saving time. In an online learning environment, you can avoid the wasted time of dealing with students’ technical issues as they try to come together to meet at the same time. Another great advantage is the customization of the learning materials. Many learning apps have AI that can help learners in a way that is more time-effective than waiting for an instructor’s response. One more advantage is that learners can move at their own pace. Learners that are driven to learn on their own may find this type of learning more to their liking as they won’t be slowed down by other students.
There are some issues that we should be concerned about when using asynchronous learning, however. One of these is the emotional distance that can occur if students feel too separated from their peers or teacher. Lack of real-time interactions with peers and their teacher can lead to another issue, as well, which is indifference. On a broad level, learning is the ascension process within a community of practice. If a student cannot feel the presence of the community, then the whole learning element may be undermined.
Key Points on Asynchronous Learning
· Saves time
· Customized lessons through AI
· Learners move at their own pace
· Suffers from a lack of community
We can see plenty of ways that EdApp employs asynchronous learning. One example is the Discussions and Assignments feature. The Discussions feature allows learners to post and respond to comments directly in the EdApp environment. It also allows an instructor step in to offer insight.
With Assignments, learners are allowed to enter in long-form answers that lets the instructor identify gaps in the learners’ prior knowledge. You can learn more about EdApp’s commitment to social learning at our page that describes all our features.
Putting Them Together
Developing your own course in the times we live in will require a balance of asynchronous and synchronous approaches. By having regularly scheduled times where all students get together, you can help keep your class engaged and give them a sense of community. At the same time, affording them opportunities to learn at their own pace will give them the freedom to pursue their learning objectives in a more stress-free manner. Luckily, EdApp addresses both needs by developing features that cater to each approach. Your instructional designers should keep in mind the points in this article when they’re putting together courses in EdApp. They should also always be aware of the specific needs of your students so they can adjust their instructional strategies, applying synchronous and/or asynchronous learning accordingly.
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Daniel Brown is a senior technical editor and writer that has worked in the education and technology sectors for two decades. Their background experience includes curriculum development and course book creation.