Synchronous vs. asynchronous learning: what's the difference

In the digital era that we live in, we are overwhelmed by new learning technologies. All these new technologies have one thing in common; they support asynchronous learning. But wait, what is asynchronous learning? And how does it compare to synchronous learning? Let's start with an explanation of the old-fashioned way, synchronous learning.

Synchronous vs. asynchronous learning
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Table of contents

  1. What is synchronous learning? 
  2. What is asynchronous learning? 
  3. What are the differences between synchronous and asynchronous learning?
  4. How does Easy LMS support both ways of learning?

What is synchronous learning? Definition explained

Synchronicity means doing something at the same time, and with learning, it's no different. Synchronous learning refers to a learning event in which a group of participants is engaged in learning at the same time [1].

There is real interaction with other people

For that, they should be in the same physical location, such as a classroom, or at the same online environment, such as in a web conference, where they can interact with the instructor and other participants. There is real-interaction with other people.

In a corporate training scenario, this type of learning occurs when there is in-person training or live webinars where the employees or customers can participate at the same time.

The benefits of synchronous learning

  • Interaction between participants.
  • Exchange of knowledge and experience between participants.
  • Real-time feedback for the instructor.
  • Training happens on a fixed schedule.

What is asynchronous learning? Definition explained

If synchronous learning takes place at the same time, asynchronous learning refers to the opposite. The instructor, the learner, and other participants are not engaged in the learning process at the same time. There is no real-time interaction with other people [1].

An example of this method in corporate training is creating online content with pre-recorded videos or publishing an on-demand online exam.

The benefits of asynchronous learning

  • Participants can learn in their own time and schedule
  • Less work for trainers and HR managers
  • Automated tasks reduce repetitive work such as giving online classes and grading exams
  • Employees and customers spend less time in a classroom or amphitheater during work hours [2]

What are the differences between synchronous and asynchronous learning?

Synchronous learning

Asynchronous learning

Traditional classroom

Recorded class

Instant messaging


Immediate feedback from instructor and peers

Sending a question and waiting for an answer

Phone call

Recorded voice message

In-person training

Online training courses (without live video)

Live webinar

Recorded webinar



Same time

Different times

How does Easy LMS support both ways of learning?

You can build content in Easy LMS for both synchronous and asynchronous learning scenarios.

Easy LMS and synchronous learning

It's possible to combine online courses with a web conferencing tool

It's possible to combine online courses with a web conferencing tool if you want to conduct online live classes. Another option is to set up a discussion forum where your participants can interact with each other while they take the same course. If you are going for a blended approach , it's possible to share a survey or a quiz with participants while giving a talk or in-person training. That method allows you to collect real-time feedback from your audience. The survey,  or short quiz,  can be shared via email, link, or even a QR code that can be easily captured with a smartphone camera.

Easy LMS and asynchronous learning

You can create beautiful courses and tests with pre-recorded videos, webinar recordings, audio files, and so on. Then, share them with your participants, so they can learn in their own time. It's not necessary to be online when your learners are, which means you can use your time for other more important tasks! Build your content one time and make it available for a lifetime! Get analytics and data about your participants and find out their knowledge gaps, so you can easily make adjustments in your material wherever necessary.

Useful resources

  1. eLearners
  2. Educause

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is synchronous learning?
    Synchronous learning is learning that happens at the same time for the instructor and the learners, meaning that there’s real-time interaction between them. It can happen on- or offline. 
  • What is asynchronous learning?
    Asynchronous learning is learning that doesn’t necessarily happen at the same time for the instructor and the learners. There’s no real-time interaction; the content is created and made available for consumption later on.
  • What are the main differences?
    Synchronous = happens at the same time. Asynchronous = doesn’t happen at the same time. With synchronous learning, participants can receive immediate feedback. With asynchronous learning, the participants can learn at their own pace.

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