Saturday, November 05, 2022

What is synchronous and asynchronous learning?

During the current education workers' strike by CUPE in Ontario (after the Conservative government ill-advisedly legislated them back to work, doubling down on the sledgehammer by invoking the "notwithstanding clause" to avoid any legal remedies), you may have seen the news that some school boards are mandating synchronous online lessons, while others are setting up asynchronous online lessons. And you may have wondered what the hell "synchronous" and "asynchronous" actually mean in this context.

In general terms, "synchronous" just means "at the same time" (and "asynchronous", therefore, means "not at the same time"). In education terms, synchronous learning refers to instructors and students gathering together at the same time, whether in-person or online, and interacting in real time. This is, then, the normal way kids are taught (whether in-person or online). Asynchronous learning, on the other hand, refers to students accessing materials on their own, proceeding at their own pace, and only interacting with instructors or other students over a longer time frame.

Makes perfect sense when explained, but it would have been nice to have seen an explanation in some of these news reports.

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