Asynchronous Learning at the Workplace – Pros & Cons

As many organisations digitalise their training, they often take the asynchronous route, lifting away the constraints on time and place. In asynchronous learning, learners can progress at their own time and pace. While the approach is efficient, there are still certain limiting factors and problems to solve. Therefore, we put together the pros and cons related to the method.

Asynchronous learning: the pros

Naturally, there’s a lot of upside to the method. If there wasn’t, it wouldn’t probably be as popular. Here are some of the advantages we see in using the time-independent learning method.

Flexibility. The method is highly flexible, enabling learners to engage anytime, anywhere, as long as they have a network connection. This helps tremendously in finding time for learning, as you don’t have to coordinate multiple schedules.

Learner-centred. The method puts the learner at the centre and gives him/her the control. It’s about one’s individual progress and people can go through the content as many times as they feel needed. This may help to balance out differences in learner skill levels as well as learning speeds.

Efficient. Asynchronous learning tends to require significantly less resources than its counterpart. As learners are engaging through digital mediums, they don’t need to travel to come together for a training session. This is especially helpful for organisations with a dispersed workforce.

Potential for personalisation. The method leaves room for a lot of personalisation. While it’s hard to personalise in a classroom, with this method learners can be assigned materials tailored to them. Even adaptive learning is possible, enabling learners to craft their learning journey as they progress through.

Asynchronous learning: the cons

However, there are downsides to this method of learning as well, just like to any other method. Here are a few considerations you should keep in mind when doing asynchronous learning. We’ll also list a few suggestions to tackle them.

Lack of social interaction. Conventionally, one of the big challenges has been the lack of social interaction. Fundamentally, learning is a social process, and eliminating peer-to-peer and instructor interaction may get some learners feeling isolated. However, nowadays more and more social learning platforms are emerging, which may solve some of the problems.

Absence of instant feedback. Another aspect where the asynchronous model may be lacking is feedback. Whereas in classroom a learner would get constant feedback, both direct and indirect, from the instructor and peers, this doesn’t always materialise in digital learning environments. However, the aforementioned social learning tools may help. Also, feedback is question of learning design. It takes a bit of time to design comprehensive flows of instant feedback throughout the material, but it’s well worth the effort!

Requires self-regulated learning skills. One of the primary challenges in asynchronous learning is getting people to commit to learning. Self-paced learning requires motivation and engagement, both of which you will likely need to carefully facilitate. However, a portion of people may not have the capabilities to manage their own learning. Therefore, we should always clearly communicate things like workload required, and offer tips and support to the learners in case they face challenges.

Final thoughts

Overall, asynchronous learning provides great possibilities thanks to its flexibility and efficiency. However, to ensure that everyone has ample opportunities for learning, we should build adequate support frameworks to make sure no-one falls off the bandwagon. Furthermore, if we can find meaningful ways of adding more social interaction, personal touchpoints and incorporate feedback on the programs, we’ll be able to significantly improve the offering. If you need help in improving your own asynchronous learning programs, feel free to drop us a note. We’d be happy to share some experiences.

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