Asynchronous vs. Synchronous Assessments in Distance Learning

Asynchronous vs. Synchronous Assessments in Distance Learning
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  • 0:00 What Is Distance Learning?
  • 0:52 Making an Asynchronous…
  • 2:20 Making a Synchronous…
  • 3:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tammy Galloway

Tammy teaches business courses at the post-secondary and secondary level and has a master's of business administration in finance.

In this lesson, we'll define asynchronous and synchronous and learn the advantages and disadvantages of each. We'll also discuss which learning platform is more widely utilized.

What Is Distance Learning?

Sandy is a professor at the University of USA. Administration has asked professors to attend a professional development seminar on distance learning. Rob, the facilitator, defines distance learning as a method of acquiring knowledge remotely via video-conferencing, the Internet or other medium. Rob goes on to say the university would like him to discuss teaching in an online environment because a greater percentage of students prefer online classes due to their many benefits: flexibility, self-paced, and zero transportation costs.

As Sandy sat in the meeting, she wondered how successful she would be at transforming her physical college class to a flipped, or online, classroom. Rob explains to the professors they have two options in creating an online environment: asynchronous or synchronous. Let's review each in detail.

Creating an Asynchronous Environment

Rob shows images of a busy professor lecturing, grading papers, running through campus from classroom to classroom, and eating on the run. We all chuckled. He then said if these pictures represent you, you may be interested in creating an asynchronous online class. Asynchronous is an online environment where interaction does not take place at the same time. You can send or post communication and expect to receive a response later at a requested date and time.

A familiar example of asynchronous communication is email. You send information and at some point later receive a response. Assessments can also be given in an asynchronous environment and can take the form of discussion boards, quizzes, or tests.

A discussion board is where the professor posts a question and ask students to respond. Quizzes and tests are also administered in a similar fashion whereby the professor poses several online questions and the student answers online by the due date. Professors later provide feedback and a grade.

The benefits of an asynchronous environment are:

  • Convenience - students are able to take the assessment and professors grade the assessment at their leisure
  • Thoroughness - students construct responses without time constraints

Some disadvantages include:

  • Plagiarism and cheating - students may not use their own work and notes; they may look up the answers in a textbook or on the Internet
  • Grading backlog - professors may take longer to grade

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