CampusOpinion

Point/Counterpoint: Synchronous vs asynchronous learning

Would you rather have scheduled lectures with your peers or go at your own pace?

With fall semester online, professors are experimenting with various types of course delivery.

While synchronous courses may provide live interactions with classmates, asynchronous course let students learn on their own time. Which form of online learning is better? Listen to our writers and decide for yourself!

Synchronous Classes

Imagine being stuck on an island alone and you need help surviving. Would you rather be able to video call people over your phone and get ideas from them on how to survive or would you rather have a device that has automated instructions for you to follow? I’m not sure what you would choose, but I would definitely go with being able to have social connections with human beings. 

As I’m stuck at home with limited social interactions, all I need right now is to look at people and hear their voices, whether it is a professor or my peers. During a pandemic, synchronous classes are the only way to do this! Although asynchronous classes may seem like a luxury, because you get to make up your own schedule, is it really worth it? When it comes to classes being asynchronous, I find myself hardcore procrastinating and having panic attacks when the work piles up.

However, with synchronous classes, it at least feels like your life is going back to the way it was before the pandemic. Attending scheduled classes not only gets you following a routine but also keeps you motivated to pay attention in class and get things done on time. Plus, it encourages you to be more actively engaged in class by participating in activities, getting to know people in your courses, and asking your instructors questions on the spot rather than waiting until office hours. These things may help you learn better compared to taking notes to pre-recorded slides. 

You may think synchronous classes are forcing you to wake up early or take notes at an inconvenient time. But, don’t you think that if it didn’t force us to be good students, we might develop a habit of slacking off, which would affect us in the long run? The answer is most likely — when classes go back to being in-person, we would probably find ourselves not being able to pay attention in class or even catch ourselves zoning out often. By forcing us to do the work, synchronous classes are truly a blessing.

Shrinithi Subramanian

Asynchronous Classes

If you are not a morning person, just like me, there is no reason to not love asynchronous learning. 

Imagine not having to get up early for the dreadful 8 a.m. lecture. Instead, you can just look through the professor’s Powerpoint or lecture videos at your convenience. While watching the recorded lecture, feel free to take breaks, grab a granola bar, and not have to worry about missing the content since you can just pause the video and come back later. Isn’t it wonderful to enjoy this flexibility and learn at your own pace? 

Some may say asynchronous teaching lacks interaction with peers. Think about it, most university students have been used to in-person learning for almost the past 15 years — do you really miss that time when you are working to solve a tough question, and the smart kid in the class suddenly yells out the correct answer. I’m sure you hate that kind of interruption. 

However, with asynchronous courses, learners can pause the video whenever they feel like it and use that time to think and solve the problems by themselves. Asynchronous learning provides the opportunity to develop the critical thinking habit which may be hard to obtain during in-person classes. It eventually leads you to become a better self-learner, which will be a lifelong benefit. 

Websites like Coursera and Udemy provide online asynchronous learning platforms for anyone to enroll. Once instructors finish creating one course, it can be promoted to as many people as they want around the world. The larger enrolment they have, the lower the cost per head. Also, online courses are much affordable to learners than in-class learning. The cost-effectiveness for both students and websites allows asynchronous learning to be unique and better compared to synchronous learning.

No more schedule difficulties, time zone challenges, or personal unavoidable issues. What a blessing for both instructors and learners. Get your much needed sleep and wake up whenever you feel like it. Thanks and shout out to asynchronous learning for always having your back!

Elsa Chen

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