The Definition Of Synchronous Learning

Short version: Learning (more or less) the same thing at the same time

What is synchronous learning? Synchronous learning is group learning that happens together–that is, students generally learn the same or similar content at more or less the same time and generally the same place.

As opposed to asynchronous learning, synchronous learning is characterized by the theme of togetherness. This implies other constraints–namely time, place, and pace (that is when learning happens, where it happens, and who controls the pace of that learning).

Traditionally, asynchronous and synchronous learning are thought of as types of eLearning, but most physical, brick-and-mortar classrooms are technically ‘synchronous’ while a self-directed learning environment where students learned ‘independently’ of one another–especially the same content–would technically be asynchronous.

Book clubs (depending on how they’re structured) are both synchronous and asynchronous–readers read the book on their own, then gather together to discuss. In that way, a book club so structured would be similar to a flipped classroom (which is also both synchronous and asynchronous).

Examples of Synchronous Learning

Traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms, live webinars with interactions, whole class remote learning, conferences, TED Talks, lectures, face-to-face discussion, debate, real-time collaboration in project-based learning, sports team practice and other game-based learning where the players are playing together

I’ll explore some of the strengths and weaknesses of each and begin to show you how you can use one to supplement the other in your classroom.

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