Across the nation, districts search for local, certified educators to teach their courses. Oftentimes, schools are faced with too few candidates and cannot staff all of their classrooms. To fill these gaps, administrators are continuing to look for solutions to fill their teacher vacancies, resulting in more and more districts turning to technology and online instruction.
However, in their search for online learning solutions, they face another challenge: deciding between asynchronous and synchronous instruction. This blog dives into the difference of each and shares why asynchronous instruction, while providing a quick fix, is not nearly as effective as live online classes, and ultimately doesn’t make the grade.
What is the difference between asynchronous and synchronous instruction?
Asynchronous instruction includes pre-recorded lectures and generically prescribed assignments. Synchronous instruction includes live lessons taught by a livestream teacher, customized to student needs.
Asynchronous instruction offers a streamlined course with video recordings followed by activities. Students log on through their devices and work independently. The track follows the curriculum to the tee, which gives consistency to the students. However, it is often inflexible and does not review concepts or address questions. Students are left on their own and often fall behind.
Synchronous instruction includes live online classes and mirrors the classroom experience as the livestream teacher interacts with students, answers questions, and customizes lesson plans. The scene is similar to a traditional classroom where the teacher leverages the students’ understanding, interests, and participation to create engaging learning experiences. Students have the flexibility to work independently, in small groups or one-on-one with the teacher.
Top 5 reasons synchronous learning works and async doesn’t
- Increased student achievement
Asynchronous instruction creates a new learning environment with less support and accountability. Students need to learn how to log on and use new programs, which wastes class time. There are few resources to help if students encounter an issue. When too much time is spent learning the fundamentals of a new program, it takes attention away from the curriculum and limits academic achievement.
Synchronous instruction produces comparable results to traditional courses because the qualified live teacher offers support and immediate feedback. Teachers react in real-time and facilitate active learning. Livestreamed synchronous learning environments have the same student performance outcomes as brick-and-mortar learning environments according to this recent study.
- Improved content comprehension
Asynchronous instruction requires students to complete independent quizzes and communicate primarily on message boards. Unfortunately, miscommunication is common through chat, and students don’t have the opportunity to see visuals or discuss concepts when they are limited to short explanations. They receive a disjointed learning experience, which leaves them without full comprehension.
Synchronous instruction replicates the brick-and-mortar class experience with interactive discussions and high student engagement. Students collaborate with classmates and work individually with the teacher to fully grasp each concept before moving on. They have the opportunity to build upon the strong academic foundation laid in the classroom. Synchronous classes contain 62% more live interactive lectures, which students overwhelmingly prefer.
- Boosted student/teacher satisfaction
Asynchronous instruction is reliant on message boards for socializing, but often feels forced and disengaged. Students don’t have direct access to the teacher, so they have to wait for clarification and feedback after assignments are graded.
Synchronous instruction naturally offers a social environment. Students talk to their teacher via livestream and interact with their peers via live group work. They have the opportunity to develop social skills and build better relationships within the class as they work together toward a common goal. Additionally, help is immediate as the teacher answers questions and engages in discussion.
Students and teachers are happier in synchronous classrooms. They reported being 8% and 7% less satisfied, respectively, with asynchronous classes.
- Enhanced learning experience
Asynchronous instruction requires independent work and is limited to written communications, which gives an impersonal experience. Pre-recorded curricula are more reliant on digital quizzes, lectures, and discussion platforms, but one size does not fit all.
Students lose the opportunity to interact with their teachers and receive individualized learning. A recent study reported that students feel overburdened by the number of digital tools they need to learn and use for their asynchronous courses. Stressful learning environments produce poor results.
Synchronous instruction allows for interactive group work, social-emotional learning, and relationship-building. More time conversing and listening to each other builds camaraderie and teamwork. Students practice the durable skills they need for their post-grad careers. When students build trust in a comfortable learning environment, they experience less stress and learn more effectively.
Synchronous learning enables social experiences that, according to the Harvard School of Education, ensure greater academic success.
- Improved instruction and coursework
Asynchronous teachers are not available during instruction, so the class is prescribed a generic lesson. Students who have questions or need extra help must take more initiative to reach out to their instructor. There is less availability and accountability when the educator does not participate in and customize daily classwork.
Synchronous learning provides immediate individualized attention, which creates better teacher-student relationships. The trust built through daily interaction leads to personalized learning plans and customized coursework to boost student learning.
Synchronous enables greater individualized instruction, and there is a proven direct correlation between 1:1 instruction and student achievement.
Async instruction doesn’t make the grade!
When evaluating online instruction options, it is clear that asynchronous courses just don’t make the grade. Consistently, the experience, the results, and the communication are better in a synchronous environment - leading to greater student achievement, satisfaction, and teaching effectiveness.
Looking for more ways async doesn't make the grade? Check out this infographic for more information.
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