While many people know what elearning is, not as many know that there are different types of elearning.
Sure there is mobile learning (a fast growing segment of elearning), but there is also two distinct types of elearning: asynchronous and synchronous.
In this short article I will go over asynchronous elearning. Specifically, what it is, why it’s good, and the potential limitations.
Let’s start with the basics.
When an event is asynchronous it means that it is time independent. So in the context of elearning this means that learners are taking course material at their own pace and at a time that is convenient for them.
One learner’s location in the course is different than another learner. Some may be finished while others have just started. This aspect alone is one of the major benefits of elearning as it makes formal education more accessible for working adults.
Asynchronous elearning extends beyond the actual online course though. It is also in reference to any offline materials that a learner may use in conjunction with the elearning course.
Why is asynchronous elearning good? Well, it allows for a great deal of flexibility for learners since it is not dependent on location or time. Course content can be taken early in the morning, at night, at the airport, or in bed.
The emphasis of asynchronous elearning is on content comprehension and not the speed at which the material is absorbed. Since the learner dictates the pace they can afford to spend as much (or as little) time on certain concepts.
While this flexibility is great, the lack of structure (particularly in relation to time) can be a limitation in asynchronous elearning. The motivation to learn the material must come from the learner. This approach isn’t always conducive to everyone.
Nonetheless, elearning is often praised for its asynchronous characteristics. Today’s generation of young men and women are used to elearning and therefore are quite comfortable with the expectation that they have to take ownership over their learning experience.