Synchronous Learning

Synchronous Learning

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Synchronous Learning is a method used where all the students and instructors have to be present at the same time. Lectures, discussions and presentations occur at a specific hour. All students must be present at a specific hour in order to participate.

Synchronous learning is often compared to asynchronous learning, in which instructors provide materials, lectures tests and assignments that can be accessed at any time. In terms of E-learning, asynchronous learning may take the form of E-mail and discussion boards which supports working relations, even when participants cannot be online at the same time. On the other hand, synchronous learning commonly uses other media platforms such as videoconferencing, chat rooms or voice (skype)[1].

There are obvious pros and cons when comparing both methods. In relevance to synchronous learning, a considerable advantage would be that participants receive an instant response to a question or query. Thus, synchronous learning makes it possible to monitor the receiver’s reaction to a message, making the receiver feel more committed and motivated to read it. Synchronous learning is often said to be more advantageous than asynchronous learning when discussing less complex issues or when students are getting acquainted with the subject matter. This is because students get answers faster and are able to “bounce” off each other whilst participating in the lecture, class or seminar, via means of voice or chat. [2]

The following list shows the possible methods in using synchronous learning [3] :

Chat (text only): Chat rooms allow multiple users to log in and interact. This is a great way to ask questions and to share resources and insights. The only drawback is that when there are a lot of people logged in, and everyone’s trying to chat at the same time, the conversation can break off into tangents. The fast typists are definitely rewarded! If you’re participating in a chat session, be sure to save the session and review it later.

Voice (telephone or voice-over IP): Sometimes you’ll be asked to dial into a toll-number, or to log into a website where you’ll speak through your built-in microphone or a headset. The purpose is to have a conference call with your instructor and/or fellow students. You may be reviewing a document or a presentation. In this case, it’s extremely helpful to plan ahead of time and have all the documents you’ll need at your fingertips.

Video conferencing: What differentiates a web conference from a video conference ist he fact that you’ll probably not rely on video as your primary instructional content. Instead, you’re likely to access a wider variety of media elements. Web conferences tend to be more interactive, and you’ll probably be asked to respond to questions (survey, poll, questionnaire), which will give you a chance to interact. Web conferences usually incorporate chat and they often have a question and answer session at the end.

Internet/Radio podcasts: When there is not sufficient bandwidth to broadcast live video of an event, instructors might steam the audio over the Internet. Good opportunities for audio steaming include concerts or political speeches. Ideally, the audio file would be archived for students to access and review later as well. The nice thing about Internet radio/steaming audio is that students can send chat messages while the event is happening. See Also: Asynchronous Learning

Link icon.png Web Resources
Link Content
What is e-Learning This infographic highlights the difference between Synchronous Learning and Asynchronous Learning.
Study of asynchronous and synchronous e-learning methods discovered that each supports different purposes This brief article explains demonstrates how research can support practitioners by studying the impact of different factors on e-learning's effectiveness. Two basic types of e-Learning are commonly compared, asynchronous and synchronous. Recent improvements in technology and increasing bandwidth capabilities have led to the growing popularity of synchronous e-learning.
Tools for Synchronous and Asynchronous Classroom Discussion This brief article lists some of the available synchronous and asynchronous communication tools; tools to consider implementing at some point in your teaching career. As with any tool, carefully consider its use before offering it as an option, and certainly before requiring its use.
Synchronous or Asynchronous? How to Pick Your Training Delivery Method Brief article that explains the advantages and disadvantages of synchronous and asynchronous training.


  1. Synchronous Distance Learning vs. Asynchronous Distance Learning[1](12 March 2013)
  2. Asynchronous and Synchronous E-learning [2] (12 March 2013)
  3. Sychronous vs Asychronous Classes [3] (10 March 2013)