Asynchronous/Synchronous Learning Chasm

Asynchronous/Synchronous Learning Chasm

Peter Serdyukov (National University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1622-5.ch001


Online learning offers generous benefits for learners. Its main attraction, convenience, however, is causing a conflict between asynchronous and synchronous modes of learning which can lead to numerous adverse effects. The shift towards asynchronous at the expense of the synchronous practices is noticeable in some colleges which may deprive students of the two critical benefits of education, personal and social development, and cause deterioration of the learning outcomes. Analysis of these two modes demonstrates advantages and disadvantages of both which calls for a holistic approach to online education realized through an additive interactive model in a blended learning format.
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General Concerns

The demand for online education is constantly increasing (Allen & Seaman, 2017). It is well-known that many students are attracted to online learning primarily because of its convenience which includes, among other things, accessibility, flexibility and speed (Bocchi, Eastman, & Swift, 2004; Serdyukov & Serdyukova, 2006; Mupinga, Nora, & Yaw, 2006; Christensen & Eyring 2011; Cole, Shelley, & Schwartz, 2014). Nowadays, people choose online programs not so much for what they will learn from them but because learning in these programs can be comfortably accommodating to their busy lives: the modern-day learning has to fit in between life and work. As Evan Williams, a co-founder of Twitter, recently put it, “Convenience decides everything…Convenience seems to make our decisions for us, trumping what we like to imagine are our true preferences” (as cited in Wu, 2018).

What online education offered on top of the programs was primarily convenience, the convenience of easy learning. Do we clearly realize its impact on the learner and education in general? We already have convenience stores and convenience food but unlearned to cook – now we are moving fast towards convenience education. Bill Gates once said, the vision is that “people should have the ultimate in convenience. Being able to get the things they care about on the appropriate device” (Gates, 2019). Young people are attracted to convenience and expediency provided by today’s technologies. Students choose convenience over hard work of learning. However, every convenience brings its own inconveniences along with it (Serdyukov 2015). Goik (2018) writes, “The lure of comfort and an easy way of going about life now arguably causes more problems than it solves…though understood and promoted as an instrument of liberation, convenience has a dark side. With its promise of smooth, effortless efficiency, it threatens to erase the sort of struggles and challenges that help give meaning to life. Created to free us, it can become a constraint on what we are willing to do, and thus in a subtle way it can enslave us” (Wu, 2018). Why to brew coffee in your own kitchen if you can buy it at Starbucks? Why walk to the corner Starbucks if you can ride there in a car?

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