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What is Synchronous Learning?
Synchronous learning is the kind of learning that happens in real time. This means that you, your classmates, and your instructor interact in a specific virtual place, through a specific online medium, at a specific time. In other words, it’s not exactly anywhere, anyhow, anytime. Methods of synchronous online learning include video conferencing, teleconferencing, live chatting, and live-streaming lectures.
What are the advantages of synchronous learning?
If you’re the kind of learner that likes active discussion, immediate feedback, and a personal familiarity that you can only get through real-time interaction, you’re probably a candidate for a synchronous learning experience. This is an especially important distinction if you’re just making the transition from the traditional classroom to an online setting. The personal contact that you get through live videoconferencing, lecture broadcasts or messenger chatting can make it a lot easier to make the transition. Essentially, you can have all the personal engagement of a classroom without getting all sketched out about germs during cold and flu season.
This experience comes with more than just engagement though. There’s a case to be made that synchronous online learning is simply a superior way to learn, that it allows for a more dynamic exploration of topics, ideas and concepts than is possible in a medium with time lag. Videoconferencing, for instance, makes it possible to ask questions and receive answers mid-lesson; to discourse and debate with classmates at a brisk and exciting pace; to collectively drive a conversation into unexpected new directions. There is a speed and immediacy to synchronous online learning that, at its best, evokes the same level of accountability and engagement as classroom attendance. If you thrive at a swift pace, surrounded by competing and complementary ideas, this is as close as you’ll come to the real thing.
With synchronous online learning, you’ll interact regularly and frequently with your professors. You’ll actually get to know your instructors. This is not just a good way to confirm your instructor’s credibility. It also provides regular opportunity for face-to-face discussion, individual guidance, and perhaps even the chance to establish a mentorship. If you’re the type of student that does your best work with the help of accessible and supportive instruction, you’re probably a synchronous learner.