Online Learning Series (PART 2): Online education promotes asynchronous learning

Now that we have grasped the concept of online learning, it is important to know how the infusion of technology and education benefits the education sector, and what it takes to develop an online platform that promotes effective online learning.

Continuing our conversation with Logan, he said that the primary element which distinguishes online learning from traditional learning is asynchronous learning.

“Online learning isn’t just about using Zoom to disseminate information to a group of students. In fact, this is the opposite of what online learning is about. Good online learning promotes a flexible, asynchronous learning.”, reiterating a fact he said in the previous article.

Picture courtesy of Logandran Balavijendran

“Learning online provides a flexible approach to both educators and students. The class doesn’t need to be paced equally for every student as opposed to physical teaching where you move as slow as the slowest student, or vice versa. With online learning, students can take their time to work on a material.”, added Logan.

“You see, physical learning functions like a factory – everyone starts in the morning, moving at the same pace with timetable. While it standardizes the learning exposure each student gets, it doesn’t work for everybody. Now, online learning allows students to prioritise a task and choose the best time for them to work on it creating a more effective learning approach.”, he explained.

According to Logan, this is called mastery-based learning – where students are required to pass a predetermined grade before progressing to the next topic. Additional support in learning are given to students if they are unable to pass the test. This cycle continues until the learner passes the test.

“Studying has now become personalized for the learner, which indirectly instils independence and autonomy. Indirectly, students will learn how to manage their time, priorities, and develop critical thinking skills.”, Logan added.

He also stated that when it comes to primary school students, the method changes slightly as it requires participation and guidance from parents to help their kids in prioritizing the right tasks, choosing the right learning times, and so on. This also eases the transition for the students from primary education to secondary level.

How can educators ensure that their online teaching methodologies are asynchronous-friendly?

“Self-guided learners need a variety of different activities to cater to their individual learning styles. This also helps to prevent boredom, thereby boosting engagement and learner participation. Include video presentations, audio narratives, interactive scenarios, and text-based modules in order not only to add variety to your eLearning course, but also to make it more exciting and customized to the particular needs of your audience.”, said Christopher Pappas, founder of on an article for Docebo.

Pappas also said that incorporating real-life examples, stories, and anecdotes that tie into the subject matter to help establish a connection between educators and students. Two-way communication is vital as the absence of it hinders students from actively participating in online classes.

He added, “Chances are, your learners aren’t going to be willing or able to sit through an hour-long session, thanks to busy schedules and other distractions. This is why it’s essential to break your course down into smaller modules that are easily digestible. Ideally, these modules should be of about 15 to 20 minutes long, if not shorter, so that your learners can complete each one of them, when convenient.”.

Pappas also suggests incorporating collaborative work in certain modules to induce peer-to-peer communication. This can be achieved by integrating message boards, forums, and project management platforms into your online learning design to provide students a medium to share experiences and work together to solve common challenges, even though they are completing online assignments on their own.

“No learning experience is complete without an effective assessment strategy, and this is doubly important for asynchronous online learning courses. You must integrate exams or quizzes to test learners’ knowledge and check their progress. Doing so also gives them the chance to gauge their own progress, so that they can fix incorrect learning behaviours and improve upon their weaknesses.”, Pappas stated in his article.

Now we know how in-depth online learning can get when coupled with technology. However, how does it fare in the real world?

The COVID-19 outbreak gave us all no choice but to adapt to online learning in an instant, forcing us to utilise existing digital tools to derive an online learning system. This came to us as an opportunity to discover the truths of online learning.

*To learn more about Christopher Pappas and, click here.

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