Asynchronous Learning: Benefits And Challenges Of Asynchronous Learning

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Online learning has made education so much easy for both students and teachers.  One of its noticeable impacts is in the introduction of asynchronous learning.

Traditional classroom education requires students to be physically present in the classroom at a scheduled time, whether convenient or not. So students who are absent during class usually miss out on the lessons for the day. Through asynchronous learning, students can access classes online without waiting for each other.

Furthermore, before the introduction of asynchronous learning, teachers used live videos tools such as zoom to facilitate learning. This approach saw students and parents complain about the problem of engagement, attendance, and performance.

Asynchronous learning mitigates this challenge by allowing students access to instructional materials and lectures on their terms. Although it is not a perfect form of learning, it is a concept in the right direction.

This article gives you insight into what asynchronous learning is, its benefits, disadvantages, and everything you need to know. Let’s proceed.

What Is Asynchronous Learning?

Asynchronous learning is a form of online education whereby students can learn at different times convenient for them. It can also be defined as a learning approach that allows learners to access the same materials but at different times and places of their choice.

It is a learning type that is centered on students. That is, teachers, set up online content for students to access at their pace, rather than scheduling a time for a combined class.

Contents may take the form of pre-recorded lecture videos, video demonstrations, and resource materials. Furthermore, emails, online discussion boards, wikis, assessments, and blogs are some of the tools that aid feedback and interaction in asynchronous learning.

As a result, instructors do not have to be available all through the learning phase. Learners can help themselves to study and communicate with teachers via emails. Teachers may also address learning difficulties through online discussion boards.

Asynchronous learning is one of the proactive solutions developed to reduce the problem associated with synchronous learning.

In that regard, let us examine the differences between them.

Asynchronous Learning Vs. Synchronous Learning

Even though these two learning styles are online-based, they are different in approach. Some of their basic differences are:

1. Time

In asynchronous learning, students and teachers do not have to meet at the same time. Rather teachers set up lectures materials for every student to access at individual times.

Synchronous learning on the other hand requires that both teachers and students meet online at the same time.

2. Equipment

Asynchronous learning involves the use of pre-recorded videos, instructional material, online discussion boards, emails, and assessments.

Whereas, synchronous learning involves the use of live videos, video conferencing, voice and text chat, etc.

3. Learning pace

In the case of asynchronous learning, learners determine the pace at which they learn. Instructors are not necessary at every stage of the learning process.

In synchronous learning, teachers define the learning pace while students have to adapt.

4. Learning process and interaction

Asynchronous learning is self-based. Although interaction may happen at a later time, students learn from individuals at first.

Synchronous learning is group-based. It involves a group of people coming together to learn. Also, there’s room for social interaction between teachers and learners.

Benefits of Asynchronous Learning

1. Flexibility

The first and most pertinent benefit of asynchronous learning is that students are able to learn in ways that suit their needs. Students can learn at their pace, without the pressure of trying to meet up with the teacher because there is free access to courses and instructional materials at any time.

Furthermore, learners have the freedom to learn from wherever they are, without having to be in a physical classroom. As a result, learners can attend to other commitments they have and allocate a convenient time for studying.

It is the best option for learning that involves foreign students with different time zones and those who have tight schedules from work or other commitments. It is an approach that caters to different types of learners compared to classes with a fixed time.

2. Promotes self-learning

Students are totally dependent on teachers to explain topics to them in synchronous and traditional classroom settings.

In contrast, asynchronous learning imposes on students the ability to learn firsthand without external help. Through this, students can build the habit of teaching themselves relevant skills and knowledge.

Self-learning also impacts them with the ability to think critically for solutions when faced with challenges while studying. Hence, this learning approach helps students to become more self-driven, creative, and result-oriented.

SEE: Be A Pro In Self-Learning and Development

3. Encourages collaboration and interaction between students

As a way of encouraging interaction and fostering collaborative learning between students, asynchronous learning uses interactive tools such as online discussion boards and conversation threading.

These tools allow students to post and reply to messages. Through this, students can discuss course contents, talk about ideas, and assist each other in understanding difficult topics.

Also, students have enough time to build rapport with classmates through the discussion boards than in synchronous learning where time is a constraint.

SEE: Collaborative Learning Strategies and Benefits

4. Preserves teaching materials

In synchronous learning, teachers often engage students in a live session which students may not be able to access after the class. But that is not the case with asynchronous learning.

Here, all instructional materials, courses, and discussions are electronically stored. As such, students can go over them multiple times and over again.

5. High retention level

Since students have access to instructional materials and courses anytime, they can always revise what they have learned in the past. This makes it easy for them to retain what they have learned.

6. Wider student reach

Compared to synchronous learning, this approach extends to a large number of people, since no one needs to catch up with the class.  This is because of the flexibility of time and place that it offers.

Employees who have busy work schedules can take up a course successfully without interruption between work and learning. It also gives students from different countries the opportunity to access the same course since there is no time constrain.

Hence, universities that adopt asynchronous learning tend to record a larger number than those that are keen on physical classes or synchronous learning.

SEE: Benefits Of Online Learning

What Are The Challenges of Asynchronous Learning?

Even though asynchronous presents quite a number of enticing benefits, there are also many problems associated with it for students, teachers, and institutions. Some of them include:

1. High technical setup cost

Setting up the technology to facilitate asynchronous learning can be costly at the initial stage. Not to mention the maintenance of technology equipment employed in learning.

Computer infrastructure, software, and website development, data protection, backup and update, internet connection, are necessary for the process of building an asynchronous learning environment.

Additionally, institutions have to employ skilled individuals in computer science and management. All these, require a large sum of money to set up.

Students also need to possess technological equipment like laptops and smartphones with which they can access lecture materials. This means that they need a substantial amount of money to be part of asynchronous learning.

2. Need for technology skills

Physical classes do not require any form of technical knowledge or skills.

On the other hand, asynchronous learning requires that both instructors and students are skilled in the use of technological tools.

This may pose a challenge for instructors especially because they need to learn how to set up video courses, presentations, resource materials, and any other helpful content for students to use.

3. Encourages Indiscipline

Because students have the freedom to choose when to study, they may become lazy and indisciplined with learning, particularly those who lack self-drive.

Many students may also resort to procrastination and pile up lessons until it becomes too cumbersome to catch up.

On the other hand, a fixed class forces students to show up regardless of their excuses. Also, it instills in them the culture of discipline, respect for time, and commitment to study.

4. Slow feedback

Synchronous learning involves live lessons where students can communicate with teachers and get feedback in real-time.

In contrast, teachers’ students’ feedback is slow here. Students can reach out to teachers through emails which teachers may not respond to on time.

Although teachers may access students through assessments and quizzes, and strike conversations with them through online discussion boards, it doesn’t make up for the speed with which feedback happens.

5. Difficulty In Understanding

Those who learn better while engaging with teachers in real-time may experience difficulties in the asynchronous learning approach. Furthermore, some topics may be too complex for students to understand easily by themselves.

Although teachers address these topics in the online discussion boards, direct access to instructors and real-time interaction between teachers and students are more helpful in this case.

SEE: Reasons Why Online Learning Is Bad

How To Make Asynchronous Learning Better

Asynchronous learning in itself has a lot of benefits. But instructors can make it better by employing some strategies.

1. Be clear with objectives

Even though learners cannot access teachers in real-time, you can help learners know what to expect in the lesson by highlighting concise objectives at the start of the course.

This will guide students on what to focus on and serve as a way of assessing if they have actually achieved the focus of the study.

2. Break courses into bits

It is better to always break courses into bits sizes. Video or audio courses should not be too long, preferably 5 to 10 mins per session. Ebooks should not be too lengthy as this can also bore readers.

3. Use of interactive videos elements

A good way to enhance online learning for students is the use of interactive videos. Instructors can implement interactive video elements such as links, drag and drop features and to make learning more fun and personalized for students.

SEE: What Is Interactive Video In Elearning

4. Assessment

Although the use of assignments is a feature of asynchronous learning, it is better to make assessments more frequent. Preferably, it should be done after each module to engage students better through the learning process.

5. Online discussion board

Asynchronous learning involves the use of a discussion board. However, instructors should try as much as possible to define the objectives of the forum and make sure that students use the platform for its purpose.

There may be provision for fun to improve interaction, it should be educative enough to not distract students from the main goal of the channel.

Hence, instructors should create time to facilitate communication in the platform as well as encourage students to partake in discussions in the forum.

FAQs

Does asynchronous learning have a set time?

No. There is no set time for you to learn in this form of learning. You learn at a time convenient for you. If you have a busy schedule, it may be your best bet to gain more knowledge and skills.

Is asynchronous learning better than synchronous learning?

Yes. Asynchronous learning is better because it is flexible in time and place. It allows students to learn at a time of their choosing. Also, students are encouraged to learn by themselves. Through this, they can learn to be independent and gain the ability to provide solutions to the problems they encounter.

Is asynchronous learning bad?

No. It is not bad, although it has some disadvantages. Some disadvantages associated with it include the high cost of setting up technological equipment to facilitate an asynchronous learning environment. Also, students who lack discipline may become lazier since they do not have the willpower to achieve set goals.

Conclusion

Whether you are seeking to grow your knowledge learn a new skill or grow your knowledge in one which you possess already, considering asynchronous learning is an excellent choice. For those who barely have the time to attend physical classes, or even meet up with combined fixed classes, it may be just what you need.

However, you should not be too comfortable or procrastinate what you have to do. Ensure to stay focus regardless to get the best out of your learning.

Furthermore, teachers can make learning easier and better by stating their learning objectives, using interactive video tools, and constantly assessing students.

Lastly, you can read the article on the best online learning platforms to get knowledge on where you can get excellent online course experience.

I hope this article helped.

Thanks for reading.