Advantages and Disadvantages of Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning

Woman having a video call via laptop: Advantages and Disadvantages of synchronous and asynchronous learning
Image by Artem Podrez from Pexels

Education is one of the most critical aspects of human existence. Education has transcended from its traditional state to a contemporary state with the growth in technology and innovations. Classes can be physical and virtual in a society with access to the necessary devices and the internet. To this extent,  online education is a prevalent reality in today’s educational system worldwide. There are two significant categorizations of Online education; it is either Synchronous or Asynchronous. As each one has its advantages, they both have certain disadvantages likewise. This article will examine the advantages and disadvantages of synchronous and asynchronous learning in the following sections:

  • Online Education
  • Synchronous learning in Online Education
  • Asynchronous learning in Online Education

Online Education

Online education refers to a formal system of learning where students and teachers/instructors interact using virtual methods. The innovation of platforms like email, conference calls, blogs, and vlogs has made it possible for people to interact quickly and effectively without physical presence. Educational institutions like other social groups have taken advantage of this possibility. Over time, online education has proven to be just as effective as the traditional physical classroom system. Online education is usually applicable in distance learning or in need of social distancing, like in the case of the COVID19 pandemic. Online education can either be in the form of synchronous learning or asynchronous learning. 

Now that you understand what online education is let’s dive right into the advantages and disadvantages of synchronous and asynchronous learning in online education.

Synchronous learning in Online Education

The online education method that happens in real-time where the instructor and the students are both available simultaneously on the same virtual platform is called synchronous learning. This is the closest method of online education to traditional classroom education. The teachers can easily identify those present in class and get real-time reactions and contributions from the students. It essentially makes use of virtual platforms like; live-streaming, video-conferencing, and live-chatting. 

Advantages and disadvantages of Synchronous learning in Online Education

You must know both the merits and demerits of this online education method, especially if you consider which method to apply.

Advantages of Synchronous learning in Online Education

It allows for class interaction.

Under synchronous learning, all students and the teacher are present on the virtual platform simultaneously. This makes it possible for students to respond and react while the lesson is ongoing. It also helps students build social values and communication skills as they relate with the instructor and other students. This makes online education almost the same as the face-to-face classroom setting, only that virtual presence has replaced physical presence.

Discipline

Synchronous learning makes it possible for instructors to take class attendance and monitor students’ participation to ensure discipline from the students. Also, the fact that the lesson will be lost, if not attended at the set time, makes more students avail themselves on time for the lessons. Therefore with the synchronous learning method, you can guarantee punctuality and class presence to a reasonable extent.

More effective teaching

In comparison to traditional classroom education, online education generally reduces the teachers’ effectiveness as teaching sometimes involves observing the students’ attitude and facial response. Synchronous online education makes it possible for teachers to see the students’ faces in real-time and, to a better extent, teach or communicate more effectively seeing the decoder’s attitude.

Instantaneous answers to questions

As a student, you will learn better if you can ask questions and receive instantaneous answers as you take lessons. Synchronous learning makes it possible for distant learners to get clarity in real-time to questions that may come up in the course of the lesson and be answered immediately.

In-depth Knowledge

As a result of quality class interaction and student engagement, you can cover more ground in class, and students can learn more. Class interaction makes it possible for students to raise issues, ask questions and contribute to a better understanding of the lesson. You should consider synchronous learning to guarantee a broader scope of learning online within the set class duration.

Disadvantages of Synchronous learning in Online Education

Unequal Accessibility

As a result of differences in location, financial capacity, and availability of a good internet reception, some students may not be able to access lessons. Also, the devices used like laptops and tablets may develop a fault, and since the class is fixed, some students may miss out on important lessons. 

Fixed Schedule

Synchronous learning is rigid as it runs in scheduled real-time. This makes it difficult for students to take classes at their convenience. It also does not allow students to re-access lessons in case of emergencies, technical failure, or poor reception. Missing a class or a part of a lesson can be detrimental to the students’ understanding of the entire course.

Students can not replay lessons: Students learn at different paces. This makes it difficult for all students to comprehend what they are taught the same way in real-time. Access to a lesson after class makes it possible for students to go through the lesson again or replay certain parts of the lesson to understand better the content of the lesson. Synchronous learning does not provide for this.

Cost

Synchronous learning is generally more expensive than asynchronous learning considering the cost of internet time and the device needed for quality video and reception. This makes it difficult for people with a low financial capacity to afford. If you are watching your spending or are not financially buoyant, you should not choose synchronous learning. 

Asynchronous learning in Online Education

Asynchronous learning is a method of online education where the teacher makes materials, lectures, and assignments available so students can assess them at any convenient time before the set deadline. In this method, there is no real-time class experience. All students go through the classes and materials but at different times based on their various schedules. This is often achieved through mediums like; virtual libraries, pre-recorded lecture contents, and online discussion boards.

Advantages and disadvantages of Asynchronous learning in Online Education

As we continue to explore the advantages and disadvantages of synchronous and asynchronous learning, asynchronous learning also comes with certain pros and cons. Knowing them will help you to identify the one best suited for you.

Advantages of Asynchronous learning in Online Education

Flexibility

The nature of asynchronous learning makes it easy for the students to learn on their own time. You can decide to take out three days a week to take all your lessons for the week. Also, you can choose to take classes as you nurse your kid or do something else. You have complete control over when to take the lessons, how fast you take the lessons, and how you take the classes as long as you take them before the deadline. 

Affordability

Compared to synchronous learning, asynchronous learning is often more affordable. Getting materials online, checking emails, and downloading videos are often cheaper than video-streaming the lesson and getting materials online for further study. Therefore it accommodates people with either weak or strong financial strength.

Less tedious for the teacher/instructor

Since lessons are recorded at a different time from when they are taken, a teacher under the asynchronous learning method can record his lessons and make all necessary materials available at his convenience before the deadline. Also, while the students take the lessons and download the materials, you have time to yourself as a teacher.

Fewer Distractions

As a result of the absence of real-time class, there is a limitation of distractions in asynchronous learning. You get to take your lessons alone without real-time experience with other students, and this takes away class interactions and questions that may interrupt learning or cause distractions. If you prefer learning in solitude, this is the best choice for you.

Students can learn at their own pace.

Students need to be given the liberty to learn at their own pace. People differ in comprehension capacity and speed; hence, having lesson materials accessible at any time before the deadline makes it possible to go through lessons over again and playback areas that are not well understood. There is no struggle to keep up with other students as far as comprehension is concerned under asynchronous learning.

Disadvantages of Asynchronous learning in Online Education

Absence of real-time interaction

One of the major cons of asynchronous learning is the absence of student-teacher and student-student class interaction. From such interactions, students can build up their communication skills and a strong network amongst themselves. 

Isolation

If you do not like the feeling of being in isolation, asynchronous learning is not for you. The pre-recording of lesson materials allows for only one-way communication and takes away the social elements in learning. As a student, it could be boring and discouraging unless you naturally prefer solitude. 

Students attendance cannot be guaranteed nor monitored

It takes discipline not to feel too comfortable with having to learn at your convenience without supervision. In real-time, teachers can monitor classes, and students can be held accountable. Still, if you are not a self-disciplined person, you may easily miss lessons or take the learning process frivolously with asynchronous learning. 

Lack of in-depth knowledge

Asynchronous learning does make learning from fellow students impossible. Also, students cannot ask questions, and cannot hold class discussions. The students are only limited to the recorded materials. This may deprive you of having a more in-depth or elaborate understanding of the lessons. 

Conclusion

The strength of a method is the weakness of the other and vice-versa. Therefore, your choice of an online education method shouldn’t be based solely on the advantages and disadvantages of synchronous and asynchronous learning. You should also consider your preferences and capacity. Moreover, whichever method you choose for learning, you need to ensure you guard against the cons as much as possible to maximize learning.

It is possible to merge the two methods as far as online education is concerned. You can have a real-time lesson and still get materials on the same subject to learn further at your convenience. Therefore, you may choose both as that will further enrich your learning. 

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