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Synchronous vs Asynchronous Learning Index

Synchronous vs Asynchronous Learning: Which is Right for your Learners?

eLearning has opened up a world of possibilities for organizations delivering training. Whether learning a new skill or completing mandatory training, you need to decide whether synchronous vs asynchronous learning is the most effective way to support your learners.

Depending on the learning objective, learners can benefit from both synchronous and asynchronous learning. Each offers advantages, and of course, drawbacks. But which one is right for you and your learners? Here’s an explanation of each, the pros and cons, and how you might best utilize both methods.

What is synchronous learning?

Synchronous learning is any type of learning that takes place in real-time, where a group of people are engaging in learning at the same time. Although learning occurs at the same time, learners don’t have to be there in person. Or even in the same location! Synchronous learning enables learners to ask questions and receive answers straight away. Learners can also collaborate freely with other learners.

For employee training, synchronous learning is a popular method to learn about new company policies or new software that’s being rolled out. When done right, it’s also useful for customer and partner training as it creates an invaluable feedback loop. Some examples of synchronous learning include:

What is asynchronous learning?

Asynchronous learning is more learner-centered, enabling learners to complete courses without the constraints of having to be in a certain place at a certain time. In essence, asynchronous learning doesn’t hinder learners by place or time. As long as they have access to the internet, asynchronous learners have the freedom to complete course materials whenever they choose, and from any location.

Although not taking place in real-time, asynchronous learning still allows learners to share thoughts and questions with instructors and fellow learners, though they may not receive an immediate response. Some examples of asynchronous learning include:

Synchronous vs Asynchronous learning: Pros and Cons

When comparing synchronous vs asynchronous, both have advantages and disadvantages.  What may appeal to one learner may not appeal to another. Let’s look more closely at some of the main pros and cons of each: Pros of Synchronous Learning:

Cons of Synchronous Learning:

Pros of Asynchronous Learning:

Cons of Asynchronous Learning:

Asynchronous learning is learner-centered, so those taking courses in this way need self-discipline and focus to be successful in completing the required course work.  Using tools like gamification helps to keep your learners engaged.

Synchronous vs Asynchronous Learning: Which is best for your learners?

Ultimately, the method of learning you choose for your learners will depend on a number of factors. These include your learning objectives, the types of course content you can create, how you deliver your training and the availability of your learners. If you have the resources, the best option is a combination of both synchronous and asynchronous learning.

For example, a largely asynchronous course but with webinars or instant messaging scheduled for varying times so that learners have the additional benefit of interacting with each other and instructors. Blended learning is another option that suits many learning objectives.

No matter which method you choose, variety is the best approach. Especially if you’re building a course; aim to keep your learners as engaged as possible by mixing different methods of content delivery. A combination of elements like video, text and images are sure to keep your learners interested! Pros and cons of Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning Infographic  


  • Paula Euerle

    This article had a lot of helpful information.

  • Sheila

    This was very informative in helping be to understand my new role as an online educator.

  • Cindy Lehman

    I like the idea of both synch/asynch approaches. Many of our parents are working still, and the different approaches are more apt to include more of our students.

  • Heather Piccoli

    I like both concepts. Just need to understand how to use them with such a large number of students.

  • JM

    The information you provided was quite clear and concise. Thank you for clarifying the difference. Food for thought as we have been thrust into a season of remote teaching and learning.





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