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Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning: Benefits and Limitations

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Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning: Benefits and Limitations

With the global spread and time constraints, organizations today are training their employees by embracing either synchronous or asynchronous eLearning. Here we will discuss synchronous and asynchronous learning along with their benefits and limitations.

According to a New Ambient Insight report, it is estimated that the eLearning market will reach up to $11.5 billion by the end of 2016 in Asia. Also, it is reported that Vietnam will see a 44.3% growth rate while Malaysia will have a growth rate of 39.4%, followed by Thailand, Philippines, India, and China with growth rates of 30 to 35%.

Synchronous learning: In this type of learning, training is delivered via virtual classrooms, video conferences, live chats, webinars, application sharing, etc. As the name suggests, learners from across the globe can connect virtually to the video conference/webinar/classroom and attend the training session.

Example: Your organization has developed a new product and you would like to train your sales reps on its pricing, features, specs, etc. simultaneously. What would you do? In this case, if you go for synchronous learning, you can schedule a webinar and ask sales teams across the globe to join the session. This way, you can train your sales workforce in one go.

Asynchronous learning: Asynchronous learning is self-paced in which courses are designed in various authoring tools such as Adobe Captivate, Articulate Storyline, Lectora Inspire, etc. Unlike synchronous learning, this training is delivered online, i.e., via the web. The learner can take the training anytime anywhere and learn at his own pace. This form of training is delivered via discussion forums, self-paced online courses, etc.

Example: You want to be trained on a new product but could not make it to the webinar; mow asynchronous learning comes handy. You can go through the pre-recorded session at your own pace, anytime. Learners can get their doubts clarified by sending queries to the instructor’s email or posting in discussion forums.

Benefits & Limitations of Synchronous Learning


Cost-effectiveness: Organizations do not need to spend money on travel and accommodation expenses like in classroom training; learners can attend the training session right from their place, and connect to employees from other places virtually.

Instant gratification: Participates can raise queries via instant messaging and get answers instantly. This helps them gain sound knowledge on the concepts and retain it longer. In addition, by getting quick answers, people learn from their mistakes and avoid them.

Highly convenient: Organizations can train global employees at one go. Learners can interact with their peers like a classroom without feeling isolated. In addition, they can attend the training on any device (desktops, tablets, mobiles, etc.).


Learners should possess technical skills: Learners who attend online training should have minimum technical knowledge. A lack of computer skills results in dropout rates.

Time constraints:  Though distance is not an obstacle, time surely is. Employees across the globe and the trainer should be online at the same time. This may disturb their work schedules and in fact, sometimes, technology may not support interactions in real-time.

Benefits of & Limitations Asynchronous Learning


Learn at own pace: Employees can hone their skills round the clock and at their own pace, without the fear of failing to catch the pace of the instructor. Moreover, they can jot down doubts while learning and clarify them later with the instructor.

No time constraints: Employees can interact with peers through emails or chats without any time constraints. This form of learning has no time and distance constraints.


Cannot get instant feedback: Employees who have doubts in the course material have to wait until the instructor replies to their emails. This stops employees from taking the course to the next level until doubts are clarified. This wastes a lot of valuable time.

Does not motivate: Employees get demotivated to login and attend the training sessions due to a lack of competitiveness, interaction, and live training environment. Importantly, learners keep on delaying the training, unlike in the synchronous environment, due to a lack of motivation and interest.

Though each has its own limitations, synchronous and asynchronous learning are dominated by their benefits. You need to use them judiciously based on your requirements.

Which method do you use, why and when? Do share with us.

View E-book on Practical Guide on Custom E-learning: A Handbook for Managers


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    Sushmitha Kolagani, thanks, this article very clearly states the differences between synchronous and asynchronous learning modalities.