Lucas Center Blog

Synchronous and Asynchronous Teaching and Learning

May 19, 2020  / Bill Reynolds, PhD  / Tags: asynchronous, online, remote, teaching, learning, synchronous

In planning for the summer and fall courses, one challenge faculty have encountered is whether their classes should be entirely asynchronous if they are being conducted remotely, or whether they should include a synchronous component. In asynchronous classes the learning is self-paced (although there are deadlines) and students do not have to be present (virtually or otherwise) at the same time. Synchronous teaching and learning, on the other hand, occur live and in real time and are typically supported by video conferencing programs. Faculty may conduct a live lecture or discussion or have students interact in small breakout groups. In addition, many courses combine asynchronous and synchronous elements to offer a blended or hybrid approach to teaching and learning.

Blended approaches may offer students more flexibility and control over their learning than an either/or approach that requires strict adherence to synchronous or asynchronous principles. Depending on your learning objectives and the needs and limitations of your students, you may lean more heavily in one direction or the other. The decision should be based on which approach will best help students achieve the course goals and objectives. A colleague at the Teaching Excellence Center at The Naval War College created a document in which she identifies some advantages and disadvantages of both synchronous and asynchronous teaching and learning, and she explores possible lessons and activities that utilize both approaches. You can find her document HERE.

If you would like to discuss synchronous, asynchronous, and blended teaching and learning, please contact the Lucas Center for a consultation. In addition, if you are redesigning a course for the fall and would like to collaborate with colleagues who are also engaged in reworking their courses, the Lucas Center will be facilitating Self-Directed Course Design Academies during the weeks of June 22 and July 13. Registration information will be available soon on this blog and through faculty email.

If you have additional ideas, advice, suggestions, music, or funny bits that you would like to share with your colleagues, send it all to or and we will post it to the blog.