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Blended Learning Framework – A Quickstart Guide to Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning

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Boost motivation and engagement of work-from-home by leveraging the strengths of synchronous and asynchronous learning.

Ideally, adults are motivated by high interest and investment to engage in learning. However, motivation is a complex phenomenon that hinges on many social and psychological intersections. By identifying which types of learning/training is best suited for synchronous and asynchronous lessons, companies can reap the benefits of a blended learning program that maximizes the potential of both.

Asynchronous Learning: Self-Guided and Flexible

Asynchronous learning refers largely to interactive learning modules that can be accessed from anywhere, at any time. Because instruction is not in real time, or delivered in person, learners have autonomy over where and when they complete them. These modules are best suited for depository information, such as pre-work during the onboarding stage.

Psychologically, learners better recall information when they are given opportunities to practice retrieving it from their long-term memory. Repeated and deliberate practice will make it easier for learners to remember content that they will use to navigate their day-to-day tasks.

Feedback both from and to students is critical for success. Managers should use direct instruction to impart core knowledge, and assess learners to make sure they understood the material. Include more low- or no-stakes formative assessments, and use them to guide the teaching and assignments. Asynchronous learning modules allow for agility because they’re modified easily. Give your learners smaller doses of consistent, targeted feedback; design lessons and assignments that allow for a quick turnaround for both trainers and learners.  

How you can implement asynchronous learning

  • Onboarding or training pre-work 
  • Rolling out new company policies 
  • Compliance checklists

Synchronous: Real-Time Learning

Synchronous learning is in real time, often streamed on platforms such as Zoom—this live interaction between learners and trainers is what drives high engagement. In-the-moment feedback is crucial in developing problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, which also depend on the background knowledge gained from asynchronous training. A carefully sequenced module can reinforce learner knowledge over its course, enabling learners to solve increasingly complex problems with applied knowledge. 

With foundational skills and basic knowledge laid during asynchronous learning, live training should be used as a means of getting students to transfer these skills to a new context. Rather than to use these live sessions to learn new concepts, it’s far more impactful to craft real-time scenarios that force students to transfer knowledge to new contexts. Mentors/managers can then further develop these skills by providing feedback that is specific, clear, and focused on the task and on improvement rather than on the learners or their performance.

How you can implement synchronous learning: 

  • Interactive case studies 
  • Classroom training 
  • Roleplay exercises

A Comprehensive, Blended Learning Strategy

There are pros and cons to both asynchronous and synchronous learning, but a comprehensive learning environment integrates the best of both worlds. By using feedback to keep an agile mindset, companies can leverage the strengths of both types of learning to build successful, intentional programs.

UP NEXT: Learn more about how distributed practice, an asynchronous learning strategy, can supercharge remote learning.