Ou Online Classes – When you’re researching the right plan for you, you’ll come across the terms “asynchronous” and “asynchronous.” You may not know what these words mean yet, but you’re probably already considering your work schedule and other responsibilities and how well each will fit. The program fits your life. Can you log in and attend classes at certain times? Or is it more realistic to finish work each week at a time that suits you best – whether that’s 3pm or 3am? Also, how do classes work?
Here’s what you need to know: Asynchronous learning allows students to view instructional materials at any time they choose each week and does not include a live video lecture component. Synchronous learning, on the other hand, means that students log in and participate in class at a specific time each week. A key difference between asynchronous learning and synchronous learning is that this live instructional component occurs at a specific time. In the sections below we’ll describe more of the differences, as well as some of the pros and cons and best practices of each style.
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We tapped Ohio State experts to explain what each style really means when it comes to asynchronous and synchronous learning and classes.
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Asynchronous classes: Complete work each week on your schedule, get instant feedback on quizzes, and schedule group work when it’s convenient for everyone.
Synchronous Classes: Attend class with instructors and classmates every week, participate in real-time discussions during class time, and improve presentation skills.
*Most of our programs have no campus requirements. Check your specific program’s page for state accreditation information.
Asynchronous learning allows you to learn on your own schedule, within a specific time frame. You can access and complete lectures, readings, homework, and other learning materials at any time over a one- or two-week period.
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“A big advantage to asynchronous classes, of course, is flexibility. Asynchronous classes mean you don’t always have to be with your instructor or classmates at the same time. We know that students who want to take a full program are looking for some of that flexibility.”
Asynchronous classes can include short videos that teach key concepts that you can watch over and over again, if needed. In some classes, students complete homework assignments and receive immediate feedback, as opposed to waiting for instructors to grade them.
But don’t get the impression that asynchronous classes are any less rigorous than their synchronous or on-campus counterparts.
“As a student on campus, you should expect to work once a week,” Muir said. “You need to interact with your instructor and classmates in a meaningful way each week.”
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For example, HTHRHSC 4300: Contemporary Topics in Health and Society, B.S. In the Health Science program, students do most of their work on their own schedule. However, they arrange themselves into groups based on their schedule and availability on a weekly basis via video conferencing to collaborate on a semester-long research project.
Synchronized learning means that even if you are learning remotely, you will be in virtually one class session each week with your instructor and classmates. Class is a firm, weekly time commitment that cannot be rescheduled. Just like an on-campus class, you will have readings and assignments to complete outside of class time to prepare you to participate in the discussion. This type of preparation from students along with a specific agenda set by the instructor ensures that each class session is effective.
“A lot of careful planning and setting up in advance turns those sessions into meaningful connections,” Muir said. “If students can do that, and if it’s well thought out by instructors, it can be very powerful to add.”
Coherent learning does not always take the form of a live video lecture or instructor-led discussion. Often, students will lead discussions on their own or give presentations to the rest of the class. In a class, group work doesn’t go away and it looks a little weird. Muir explains that some instructors present case studies to students, who must first negotiate an answer in a small group and then together as a class. The specific types of activities included in a coherent curriculum depend on the course and program.
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“There’s a lot of discipline-based, very active stuff in those sessions that isn’t the equivalent of a recorded lecture,” Muir said. “It’s really like doing some kind of activity in the classroom in a virtual setting.”
Ohio State’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program is an example of a program with concurrent course requirements. One of the classes, NURSPRCT 8600: Organizational Culture, requires students to attend weekly evening class sessions using CarmenZoom. Class discussion and interaction with the instructor occurs mainly during these meetings, with homework and readings available anytime on CarmenCanvas, Ohio State’s learning management system.
Whether your program is mostly asynchronous or synchronous, Muir reminds students to be intentional with their time in order to be successful.
“In a project, you really have to respect yourself and plan your time and efforts,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re in a synchronous or asynchronous class, you just need to know how to block your time to do those things.”
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Vivian Jones, M.Ed., an academic consultant, says she often works with students who aren’t sure how synchronous or asynchronous classes will fit into their lives. To begin with, knowing yourself and your own limitations is key to making decisions about your education.
“Remember that a degree program is time-consuming,” Jones said. “Consider how you will manage work-school-life balance. There’s a lot of self-discipline involved.
“People who feel disconnected or disconnected from an incoherent curriculum,” Jones said.
“Reply to discussion posts and find people who share your interests or do things you don’t know about. That way you can learn more about them,” he said. “Build relationships like you would in the physical classroom.”
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In a class, student engagement needs to be more intentional than in a one-on-one class, where engagement can happen more organically, but it’s important to ensure that all students are invested in their course.
“Learning, student engagement is different,” Jones said. “I see instructors in the classrooms really trying to personalize things and make people feel included. Because students are part of the Ohio State community, we try to bring everyone together as one community.
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