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Determining what to offer synchronously v. asynchronously for remote adult learning:1

Synchronous learning may be preferable…Asynchronous learning may be preferable…
  • To build community and connections
  • To keep some learners more engaged
  • To discuss a complex topic and avoid miscommunication or misunderstanding
  • To allow participants to problem-solve or practice a skill collaboratively
  • If facilitators want to adapt the learning activities in real time to meet participants' expressed needs (e.g., elaborate on and practice a skill that participants indicate is confusing)
  • To allow for immediate feedback to participants and responses to questions
  • If participants' schedules do not allow for a common learning time
  • If participants wish to rewind or review materials at any time
  • To allow participants to collaboratively review, revise or comment on materials, such as sample lesson plans or assessments
  • If participants have diverse learning needs and will participate in only the most relevant lessons/modules
  • To avoid real-time technical difficulties or security breaches
  • To allow facilitators time to thoroughly consider/research responses to participants' questions

1 U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology. (2017). Reimagining the role of technology in education: 2017 national education technology plan update (PDF).; L. Darling-Hammond, M.F. Hyler, M. Gardner. (2017). E​ffective teacher professional development. Learning Policy Institute; J.C. Dunlap & P.R. Lowenthal. (2014). The power of presence: Our quest for the right mix of social presence in online courses. In A. A. Piña & A. P. Mizell (Eds.) Real life distance education: Case studies in practice (pp. 41-66). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishers; Worcester State University Center for Teaching and Learning. Synchronous vs. Asynchronous?; The Best Schools magazine. (Sept. 11, 2020). Sy​nchronous learning vs. asynchronous learning in online education.