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Online Education: Synchronous vs Asynchronous Learning

The Difference Between Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning

Online education has increased in importance due to a number of reasons. The Internet has become better and faster, new technologies pop up like mushrooms, and more online content becomes available for free. Even top-notch educational institutes like MIT share online courses with anyone who’s interested.

Online education is a trend that will surely continue to grow in the upcoming years. The way you can teach and learn through the web can be divided into two groups: synchronous and asynchronous. We will explain the differences and give a few advantages and disadvantages.


Synchronous Learning

Synchronous learning happens direct, in real-time. Your classmates, your teacher, and you can talk to each other through an online medium. This can’t happen anywhere at any given time since you all need to be present at the moment the interaction takes place. This method comes closest to the traditional classroom experience.

There are several methods that allow synchronous learning, such as video conferencing, live chat or live streaming. An example of a tool you can use is Zoom. You can all tune in via a link, see each other via a webcam and share or take over screens.

If you want to know more about video conferencing software in the classroom, such as Zoom, check out our overview and top 5 tools!


  • Interactive: You can have active discussions and immediate feedback in a personal way, based on the student’s learning pace.
  • Motivational: When you are surrounded by your classmates and teachers, you get encouraged to work in a more focused and productive way.


  • One time frame: Because synchronous learning requires everyone to tune in at the same time, the whole class needs to be online at the same time.
  • Technical requirements: In order to have a successful synchronous learning experience, you need to have a proper Internet connection and a charged battery. This often means you should be home, connected to WiFi. If you are on the go, this might be a problem.

Asynchronous Learning

Instead of synchronous learning, this method doesn’t happen direct and isn’t interactive. It can happen whenever you want, wherever you want. Your school can provide content online, and you can access it anytime you like. Just log in and start learning!

There are many ways to provide asynchronous learning. Examples include online video courses, self-guided lesson modules, and posted articles or papers. As previously mentioned, MIT provides a lot of online courses. This is a perfect example of asynchronous learning content. 


  • Flexibility: You can access the content whenever you want, wherever you want. You don’t need to be in a quiet room with perfect conditions, you can easily watch this with earphones on the train.
  • Study at your own pace: If you can take in the material on your own, you’re not competing with other students. You can review certain subjects 10 times before moving on if you’d like.
  • An abundance of choice: There are countless content options out there. When you want to discover more about a certain topic, just browse the web for answers.


  • Impersonal: Although asynchronous learning has many advantages, it lacks the personal touch many students need. It’s less collaborative, encouraging, and you cannot receive immediate feedback.
  • Requires discipline: If you want to learn as much as you do in the classroom, you will need a lot of discipline to pull you through the material. It’s a lot easier to give up on studying when no one is guiding you.


The main difference between synchronous and asynchronous learning is that the first is direct and interactive while the second is not. Both methods are valuable in terms of online education and we strongly believe that using a mix of both is the best way to go.

Singapore International School adopts this new technology in its New Way of Learning. They prepare students for the technological changes in the 21st century. 


Do you want your kids to be fully prepared for the exciting times ahead? Enrol them now in one of the Singapore International Schools!

MIT. (2020). MIT OpenCourseWare | Free Online Course Materials. Retrieved March 26, 2020, from

2 SIS Group of Schools. (2020a). The Benefit of Video Conferencing Software in the Classroom. Retrieved April 24, 2020, from

3 SIS Group of Schools. (2020, April 14). Top 5 Video Conferencing Tools. Retrieved April 24, 2020, from

4 Singapore International School. (2020). Enrol Now. Retrieved March 26, 2020, from