Every company has its training goals. Whether to up or re-skill people or to comply with mandatory training, learning managers or team leaders are responsible for their teams’ training to bridge knowledge gaps and, at the same time, promote personal and organisational growth. But with teams dispersed in different locations, driven by the rise of hybrid workplaces, they face a new challenge. In a sea of e-learning approaches, how to decide which is more effective? Synchronous, asynchronous, or a combination of the two?
The answer becomes clearer when you distinguish the different approaches. In this article, you will find a brief explanation of each term, highlighting its pros and cons.
It happens in real-time, and it can take the form of webinars, zoom calls, or even instant messaging.
Synchronous e-learning enables real-time interactions, meaning that the learners can ask questions, receive feedback, or collaborate during the training. It creates dynamic learning through the communication between instructors and learners, and the carrying out of group activities. Also, whenever learners have doubts about the training content, the instructor can quickly answer and ensure that everyone is understanding.
But there’s a catch (or several…). Synchronous e-learning requires a specific schedule so learners cannot access the training content where and when they would like. Another hindrance is related to the learners’ personality. If you remember your school years, I’m sure that you will recall that there were students unable to ask a question or to share an experience, because they were shy or didn’t have the confidence to participate in group discussions. The same happens here. Some learners may feel left aside or even may not keep up with the learning without having individual attention. Finally, real-time interactions are great, but the lesson can deviate from its course and the learning will be affected.
Asynchronous e-learning does not occur at the same time the knowledge is conveyed. It can take the form of online courses, pre-recorded video lessons or webinars, online forums, discussion boards, or even articles, blogs, or emails.
Its main advantage is that it focuses on the learners’ availability, allowing them to control part of the learning process by giving them the freedom to complete course materials whenever they choose and from any location. Being able to study at their own pace, learners are more likely to retain the learning content. And although they may not receive an immediate answer, they still can ask questions and share opinions. Finally, it also saves time and money as the same learning resource can be used again and again with different audiences, in different time zones and geographies.
As always, there are cons to asynchronous e-learning. The first is the limitation within the interaction learner-instructor. Although you can ask questions to your instructor, the answer may not be immediate. The same happens with the interaction (or lack thereof) between peers that may be relevant for interest. Finally, asynchronous e-learning requires self-motivation and discipline, meaning that you must have engaging content to ensure learners’ attention, or put a plan in place to get your team onboard with training without making it mandatory.
It combines the two approaches above. It is ideal for training that requires an emotional engagement, such as an onboarding programme or behavioural coaching.
When well organised, a blended e-learning programme allows flexibility of learning paces, combining individual study with one-to-one sessions and group activities.
The disadvantages of blended e-learning can be overcome by the shift between approaches. This means that if there’s any part of the training that learners, by themselves, can’t understand, the instructor can set aside time during training for one-to-one or group Q&A sessions. And if a learner, for any reason, cannot attend a live session, this can be recorded for later visualisation in the company’s training platform.
So, what to choose: Synchronous, Asynchronous, or blended?
If you have the resources, consider using the blended approach, as it supports both synchronous and asynchronous e-learning opportunities.
With a blended e-learning programme, you can offer a mix of formats like video, text, images, and live multimedia experiences that engage learners, keeping them motivated to complete the training. Having live sessions complementing the asynchronous training, you can overcome potential learning gaps. On the other hand, asynchronous e-learning can offer deeper knowledge and encourage learners to go further, also being the most cost-effective of the three.
Ultimately, analyse the learning scope and your training objectives . If you haven’t defined your courses’ scope and training goals, and would like some help with it, read our article “How to define the Course Scope - step one to successful video training”. It will help you understand which is the best e-learning approach for your learners.
If you still don’t know how to start or you would like the bugle team’s help to build your training programmes, please contact us. We will be delighted to be your partner.
Check out the “Creating an effective online course” free certification course at the bugle academy, or read the “How to create a video training course: the complete step by step guide” to learn more about how to create a great online video course.
Here is some additional knowledge you can dive into:
How to convert in-person training into online delivery (guide)
Tips to quickly create & deliver a professional-looking online course (article)
5 free tools for video creation – the bugle selection (article)
Free tools for low-cost professional looking video production (article)
Why digital training is the smart choice for your business (article)
12 tips to choose the right training platform (article)
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