In any organization, learning is an ongoing process. Training your employees, whether they are new hires or existing employees, is crucial. It helps them learn new skills, increases their productivity and motivates them. Additionally, it teaches them the business acumen that is important to handle your organization. Training the employees makes them feel valued because you are investing a lot in them and that reduces turnover

All over the world, the process of learning has drastically changed since the pandemic. Whether in offices or institutes, many people have shifted their work online. If we classify the types of e-learning, we get synchronous vs asynchronous learning. Both types are an important part of training at any organization.

With all of these benefits for your organization, you just don’t know how to manage the training process especially since we are in the middle of a pandemic right now. This article will guide you in deciding which method may work for your business.

In this article, we will cover the differences in synchronous vs asynchronous learning and their pros and cons so you can decide which method is better for your organization.

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What is Synchronous Learning?

Synchronous learning takes place in real-time. Synchronous learning happens both in physical and online settings. Before the widespread adoption of EdTech, synchronous learning was more commonly known as distance learning. 

As the word synchronicity tells us, this type of learning happens at the same time and in the same place. Synchronous learning involves real-time interaction with other people. So, you are in sync with everyone and learning the same thing at the same time. For instance, if you are at an HR conference, you interact and attend it with others at the same place.

What is Asynchronous Learning?

Asynchronicity refers to something that is out of sync. Asynchronous learning is a type of e-learning or digital learning that happens at an individual’s own pace and schedule regardless of their location. To learn asynchronously, you don’t have to be present in any real-time setting. It can happen whenever and wherever you want it to. 

In this type of learning, the trainer, the employee, and other members are not gathered at one place to learn. Both synchronous vs asynchronous learning methods concern how a ‘class’ should be called and taught. 

We will discuss all the pros and cons of synchronous vs asynchronous learning in detail later.

Synchronous Vs Asynchronous Learning

So what is the difference between synchronous and asynchronous learning?

Synchronous vs asynchronous learning both have their differences. Let’s take a look at them below:

  • Synchronous learning happens in a traditional ‘classroom’ where trainees gather at a common platform. In a physical setting that could be a classroom or a meeting room in the workplace. In an online setting, it could be a recurring Zoom learning meeting. On the other hand, in asynchronous learning, learning happens through pre-recorded lectures and courses.
  • In synchronous learning, if the trainee has any ambiguity or question, they can instantly ask right away and get an answer since the session is live. However, in asynchronous learning, they need to send a question to their trainer and wait for a response.

Asynchronous learning

  • Synchronous learning is training that happens face to face, in person. Asynchronous training however is in the form of recorded lectures and online doesn’t need to have a live video with the trainer.
  • In synchronous learning, trainees have to follow the schedule provided by the trainer and are group-paced. However, asynchronous learning involves learning at one’s own pace and according to your own convenience.
  • Finally, synchronous learning happens in real-time, where everyone meets either online or in person, at a fixed time. Asynchronous learning happens online and can be done at any time, without the need of a trainer.

Synchronous Learning Examples

Synchronous learning examples include the following:

  • Interactive Webinars for employees and clients
  • Chat-based forums for discussion
  • Video conferencing
  • Broadcasted lectures for the training of employees

Asynchronous Learning Examples

Asynchronous learning examples include the following:

  • Online pre-recorded lectures
  • Learning from blogs
  • Emailing between the trainer and trainees
  • Online courses
  • Online forums for discussions
  • Video demos
  • Employee presentations

Pros and Cons of Synchronous Learning

Synchronous vs asynchronous learning both have their benefits and drawbacks. Let’s go through synchronous learning first:

Pros of Synchronous Learning

  • Since synchronous learning primarily happens in an interactive environment, group activities are possible with this type of learning. Trainees can make friends with their peers and communicate with their trainers, which makes a healthy, collaborative environment. 
  • Synchronous learning is about learning in a real-time environment. This means that whenever a trainee has a question, they get immediate feedback and suggestions. This saves time. Secondly, through online discussion boards, trainees can make impromptu suggestions with their colleagues. 
  • With synchronous learning, a sense of community is built within the trainees because it is social. 

Cons of Synchronous Learning

  • Since trainees have to be present for learning synchronously, they have to follow a set schedule for their classes. In this learning, trainees can access only a selective type of content for training that is provided by their trainers. 
  • In synchronous learning, not every trainee can get attention. This can cause hurdles especially because time is limited and a trainee doesn’t get to clear their concepts. Secondly, if a trainee has ambiguity about a topic, they can’t simply rewind to listen and understand the concept. To overcome this trainers can have one-on-one conversations with their employees to have regular Q/A sessions with them. 
  • In any type of learning the quality of teaching matters a lot. If the trainer isn’t fully qualified to teach their employees, it will result in next to no significant benefits. It’s therefore important that the trainer is well prepared and qualified to teach a class. 
  • If a trainee skips a regular class or an important lecture, they may never learn it again unless they ask their trainer about it. 
  • If the synchronous learning session is in the form of a video meeting, there often are glitches in voice and video which reduces the quality of learning synchronously.

Pros and Cons of Asynchronous Learning

Pros of Asynchronous learning

  • Asynchronous learning is flexible. Even though it too, comes with deadlines, the trainees can continue to learn at their own pace and from any place they want. This type of learning isn’t time-controlled therefore, trainees can start or end a course whenever they choose.
  • Asynchronous learning is cost-effective. You only need a good wifi connection to avail the best online learning courses from all over the world. Additionally, it saves trainees the cost of conveyance. Secondly in asynchronous learning, you learn regardless of the time zone differences. 
  • With asynchronous learning, trainees have more time on their hands to fully absorb a concept. They can go through the learning materials whenever and for as many times as they want.

Asynchronous learning

  • Asynchronous learning is especially beneficial to large organizations with many employees. With this learning type, they can even reach hundreds of employees to train them without smaller meetings.
  • In this type of learning, there is no chance a trainee can miss a class. If they do, they can always go back to listen or watch again.
  • Asynchronous learning courses can be from professional teachers all over the world making learning more effective.

Cons of Asynchronous Learning

  • In the asynchronous type of learning, there is no real connection with any of the trainers. This results in a feeling of isolation in the trainee and might demotivate them from continuing with the course. 
  • With asynchronous learning, trainees do not get instant replies to their queries. There rarely is someone to help them with their problems. Even if they find helpful sources, they take time to reply to their questions. 
  • In asynchronous learning, there is no one to guide the trainees or mark their progress. This sometimes results in a lack of discipline and focus.

Just like synchronous vs asynchronous learning differ, synchronous and asynchronous teachings are different too.

Synchronous Teaching

In both physical and online synchronous teaching the instructor:

  • Sets a regular schedule for their class
  • Follows a timetable
  • Prepares for the lecture beforehand
  • Answers the queries of their trainees instantly
  • Shares feedback and makes suggestions
  • Regularly evaluates their progress

Synchronous instruction is dependent upon the quality of the instructor. To teach the trainees the trainer must know their objectives, create content that is suitable for their trainees and deliver the lectures efficiently. Many organizations prefer synchronous teaching for their trainees because it offers a real-time experience.

Asynchronous Teaching

However, many instructors prefer teaching asynchronously because:

  • It is often hard to gather an entire class at the same time online. One of the biggest reasons for this is that some trainees may not have a strong internet connection. Sometimes, if the connection is weak on the trainer’s part, it affects the overall quality of the teaching synchronously.
  • In synchronous teaching, troubleshooting audio and video problems can take up time for both the trainer and the trainee. Even if trainers do come prepared, fixing a glitch can be time taking and painstaking. On the other hand, in asynchronous teaching, the instructor already has set up a learning path and a solid tech setup. 
  • Many trainers don’t like dealing with audio-video problems in their online classes. Especially when a trainee has a noisy background and distracts the entire class. 
  • Asynchronous course teaching is time-effective when it comes to having long meetings. Almost all trainee problems can be dealt with by email. Although it is always effective to have face-to-face interactions with trainees to follow their current progress, sometimes keeping it on text saves time.

How to Establish Successful Asynchronous Learning with your Employees

Synchronous learning is simple and most managers already know how to make that successful. The section below talks about ways to establish successful asynchronous learning for your employees:

Use Real-Life Examples

Although it is nice to include theoretically supporting material in your trainee’s training courses, try adding material that will help them in real life. Use real-world examples that will help them in their day-to-day work.

Don’t Overwhelm your Trainees

Whenever you need to train a new hire or an existing employee, make sure their training course is manageable. If you overwhelm them with a number of new courses and knowledge, they will absorb nothing. Instead, use the microlearning method which has been shown to increase engagement by 50%, according to a report by Software Advice. Keep everything short and sweet and provide flexibility. 

Use Simple Tools

For quite some time, your trainees will struggle to get comfortable with using tech tools. If you provide them with simple tools, they will take less time and learn a lot in less time. Design your learning path in a simple way and help them wherever they may need your support. 

Keep it Interesting

Keep all of your training material interesting. Use flashy graphics if you need to, but keep everything simple. Make sure all of the courses that your trainees will take are information-rich and interesting. If they’re tedious, trainees will lose their motivation soon. Instead of adding theoretical information, add problem-solving and analytical skills-related exercises. 

Evaluate the Progress in both Synchronous vs Asynchronous Learning

In our entire synchronous vs asynchronous learning debate, evaluating the progress of trainees is a key factor. Whatever you include on the training course or teach them live, make sure to evaluate their progress. It’s always effective to be aware of where your trainees are struggling or what their current strengths are. If many trainees are finding a particular course hard, make sure to evaluate the training course as well. If you find subpar progress in the trainees, consider changing the training material. 

The Bottomline on Synchronous vs Asynchronous Learning

After you have read both synchronous vs asynchronous learning benefits and drawbacks, 

you can decide which type of learning works best for your organization. Although both have their differences, which one to choose depends on various factors unique to your organization. However, if you have the resources, a blend of both synchronous and asynchronous learning is considered the best practice.