Asynchronous and Synchronous training

One of the first rules in designing elearning is to identify who your target learner  is; knowing this will determine your approach and method. What delivery method will you use? How will it support your goals to deliver engaging, interactive content?

We know as learning and development professionals that the online programs we design must be aligned with adult learner characteristics and fit the business need. We need to consider work constraints, remoteness, and learning support when we consider our design choices.

Let’s take a look at the two basic types of delivery methods that may be used to deliver training.

With asynchronous training, learners and instructors do not need to be online or in person at the same time – also known as self-paced learning. Whereas synchronous training is instructor-led which requires both instructor and learner present either online or the classroom.

Asynchronous training

The benefits of this delivery method is its flexibility. Learners can take the training in their own time or as and when the business requires it. Asynchronous training is cost effective; instructors and learners are not required to travel. Due to its flexible nature, learners can take this training when they need it and as it becomes relevant to their job performance.

Challenges learners may face in participating with this type of training:

  • self-motivation can be difficult to maintain
  • lack of collaborative learning
  • limited learner support
  • technical issues

Synchronous training

The advantages of synchronous training makes learning collaborative; learners can work in groups, share ideas,  and discuss activities. Instructors provide guidance on exercises and explain difficult concepts. Feedback is given immediately and learning is supported.

One of the disadvantages with synchronous training is that it can be costly with instructors and learners having to travel to the training venue; it also may disrupt business continuity. The course’s pace is aligned to the slowest learner whereas with asynchronous training the advanced learner can skip ahead to the learning segment suited to their learning needs.

Which method suits your learning goal

Consider how the training will benefit the learner’s needs. What are the technical requirements? Will they need immediate learner support? Conducting an audience analysis in the first instance will clarify the learning objectives and identify the best delivery method for achieving your goal. For example, if you need learners to access just in time training to perform their work, then asynchronous training may be the best delivery method. If, however, content needs to be taught and explained, synchronous training is best suited to this delivery.

Choosing the right delivery method for your learning objectives is important in maximising positive learning outcomes for your learners. The right delivery method can help you create courses that are relevant, on time, and interactive. Success is measured by how memorable the learning experience is and how well the learners can apply what they’ve been taught to the work they do.