The use of learning styles has been a widely known and employed technique in education. The application of these techniques to teaching is still a relatively new idea, but it has been a topic of some discussion for a few years now. The debate generally centers on whether or not learning styles should be used as a basis for language instruction.

Methods of teaching students based on the students’ learning styles have been studied and tried out in some countries such as Australia. Educators have been encouraged to study and implement ways of integrating the use of learning styles into their programs. This article will look at the differences between synchronous and asynchronous learning as well as go over the pros and cons of both.

Asynchronous vs Synchronous Class Layout

There are two primary types of learning styles: asynchronous and synchronous. Those who learn in the asynchronous style need time to process information before responding or participating actively. They work better alone, but they can also benefit from interaction with others. They likely prefer written instructions over oral ones and may take notes when studying independently.

Asynchronous students tend to study and complete assignments on their own time and at their own pace. These students typically prefer the Internet as a means of communication.

On the other hand, those who learn in a synchronous style need almost constant interaction with others to process information and remain interested. They work better when they can see what other learners are doing, but they can also benefit from time to process information before responding or participating actively. They likely prefer oral instructions overwritten ones and may feel a need to respond immediately when studying independently.

Synchronous students often study and complete assignments together as a group. These students typically prefer email as a means of communication since it allows them to all see one another’s responses.

People tend to lean more towards one type of learning style than the other. They may also develop a preference for using one mode of communication over another. For example, some people may prefer not to discuss ideas in an online chat room out of nervousness or embarrassment, yet they are perfectly capable of doing so in person. Thus, the idea of moving from an asynchronous method to a synchronous one may be difficult for them.

Advantages / Disadvantages of Both

Both asynchronous and synchronous learning styles have advantages and disadvantages.

Asynchronous Pros

There are many ways asynchronous learning can be beneficial to students.

#1 No need to be a joiner

Students who learn asynchronously don’t feel the pressure to spend every waking moment working with others. They can get their work done without having to rely on other people for support.

#2 The freedom to be invisible

Asynchronous students are not held accountable for anything they do or fail to accomplish. They are allowed the freedom to learn at their own pace without having to worry about social exposure in addition to academic exposure.

#3 The availability of private spaces

Many asynchronous students enjoy the opportunities that working in an asynchronous mode can provide them. There is no need for them to leave their private spaces to study, work on assignments or speak with their teacher. They are free to do these things at their own pace and within the confines of their own space, which is oftentimes more comfortable for them.

#4 The option of working alone

If they choose to, asynchronous students can easily complete an entire course without ever having to work with anyone at all. They can study independently and be allowed the opportunity to work through any issues without relying on others for guidance or support. They may even be able to pass a course by doing this. This is one of the best practices for asynchronous learning. Being able to work alone is a great skill to have.

Asynchronous Cons

However, there are also some drawbacks associated with asynchronous learning as well.

#1 May require more time

Asynchronous students may feel that they need several hours or even days to complete an assignment. This means that these types of learners may spend much longer on certain projects than their synchronous peers, who are typically able to knock out tasks in much shorter amounts of time.

#2 Can thrive when others don’t

While asynchronous students may have the freedom to succeed, they also have the freedom to fail. Without being in constant contact with their teacher or classmates, they are given the opportunity to fall behind without anyone noticing. This means that if they don’t regularly check-in or stay on top of their work, it is very easy for them to fall behind and fail a course.

Synchronous Pros

Synchronous students benefit from being able to learn with others and work within a group which can be a difficult task for some.

#1 Automatic support network

Synchronous students typically have access to a support network that they can rely on for peer assessment, feedback, and help at any time during a course. This can be beneficial because it allows these types of students to receive quick and accurate feedback from their peers regularly.

#2 The opportunity to work together

Working asynchronously can often lead to loneliness and isolation for those who prefer it. By working with others, synchronous students have the opportunity to collaborate and discuss course material without feeling alone or isolated in their learning.

#3 The opportunity to learn new skills

Synchronous learning allows students the chance to practice social communication and collaboration skills on a regular basis. This can be an excellent way for them to learn how to work with others in a variety of situations, which will help them throughout their academic careers as well as their professional careers.

Synchronous Cons

Although working synchronously offers several benefits to students, it also comes with a few drawbacks.

#1 The potential to become too dependent on others

In many synchronous courses, there is no room for mistakes or failure. If someone misses an assignment or does not complete a task properly, they can easily receive a poor grade. This can cause students to become too dependent on others for their learning, which can make it difficult for them to be successful when they are by themselves.

#2 Lack of confidence with technology

For those who are used to working asynchronously at home, there may be some difficulty adapting to the idea of synchronous learning. This is especially true for those who are new to coursework online and have never had a Facebook, Twitter, or blog account before. They may feel anxious about starting a social network profile, sharing their thoughts publicly, and engaging with others regularly.

#3 May become distracted by peers

Unfortunately, some synchronous students end up spending more time socializing than they do engaging and learning with course material. This can be especially difficult for students who are introverted by nature, but it is also something that all types of learners must keep in mind when working online.

Asynchronous learning offers students many benefits, but it is not right for every type of learner. For those who like to work independently while studying at home, asynchronous learning can be an excellent way to get coursework done without feeling overwhelmed or stressed out by the demands of a classroom environment. If someone prefers distance education courses that are self-paced, asynchronous learning may be the right choice.

Synchronous learning, on the other hand, is great for helping students learn to work together while building their social skills. However, it should be used with caution since some people are not comfortable working in a synchronous environment or do not feel confident engaging with others publicly. The future of learning is bright; however, students should be aware of the pros and cons of each learning method so they can choose courses that are right for their situations.

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