What is asynchronous online learning?

Posted by Greten on 08 Feb 2023 under Terms

Asynchronous online learning, also called asynchronous elearning, refers to an approach in distance education where learners can learn and engage with course materials on their own time and schedule using the internet. Instead of having real-time interactions with instructors or other participants, learners access course materials through a learning management system (LMS). When people hear of the word "elearning", this is usually the approach that comes in their mind, especially those who first encountered the term in corporate setting.

In defining asynchronous online learning, you need to remember three words: asynchronous, online, and learning. Asynchronous means the learning processes of enrolled learners do not happen simultaneously. Online means learning occurs through the internet. Learning means knowledge or skills are transmitted despite being asynchronous and online.

Learning is asynchronous

Asynchronous online learning is designed to accommodate individual learners' varying schedules and needs, allowing them to learn and complete coursework on their own terms. It also enables learners to fit their education into their lifestyle, making it an attractive option for those working or with other commitments.

A woman browsing online courses using a laptop.

In asynchronous online learning, the instructor and learners do not participate in the learning process at the same time. Unlike traditional classroom-based education or synchronous online learning, where there is real-time communication between the instructor and learners, asynchronous online learning allows for a more flexible and self-paced learning experience.

The course materials and assigned tasks are made available to learners through an LMS. This means learners can access the materials at any time and location as long as they have an internet connection.

Role of the instructor

The instructor's role in asynchronous online learning is to provide structure, guidance, and support to the learners. This may include providing pre-recorded lectures or videos, assigning tasks, and assigning online activities designed to help learners engage with the course materials. The instructor is also expected to have an open line of communication with the learners for clarifications of parts of the lesson they cannot understand, either through the use of online media of communication such as emails, messengers, and discussion boards or to schedule a tutorial session with them. Since they only meet the learners in person occasionally, these rare opportunities to meet are crucial.

The instructor also assesses the learners' performance and provides feedback, helping to keep the learners motivated and on track. However, in evaluating the learners' performance, the instructors can focus on grading open-ended or essay-type questions and deliverables such as project portfolios. Objective-type quizzes can be automatically graded by the LMS, and the instructor merely needs to get the results to computer the learner's overall grade.

Format of course materials

The course materials comes in different formats, such as HTML5 interactive modules, recorded video lessons, online forums, slide presentations with or without voice-overs, and static web pages. These formats provide learners with a more engaging and interactive learning experience.

The HTML5 modules can include interactive simulations, animations, and games that help make the learning experience more engaging. The recorded video lessons allow learners to learn from the instructor at their own pace, rewinding or fast-forwarding as needed. Online forums and discussion boards facilitate collaboration and communication between learners and instructors, allowing learners to ask questions and receive feedback. Slide presentations provide learners with visual aids to support their learning, helping to reinforce key concepts and ideas.

Essential technologies to develop and deploy asynchronous elearning

At the core of most asynchronous online learning programs is the learning management system (LMS). An LMS is a web-based software application that is used to manage, document, track, report on, and deliver educational courses, training programs, or learning and development programs. The LMS may also facilitate communication between the instructor and learners, allowing learners to ask questions and receive support as needed. Some examples of LMS are Moodle, Blackboard Learn, and Canvas.

A server room where LMSs are usually hosted.

An elearning authoring tool, on the other hand, is a software application that enables instructional designers and elearning developers to create interactive and engaging online learning materials such as HTML5 modules and videos. These modules can be set up to transmit data to the LMS and, thus, save a record of the learner's progress and performance. Some commonly used e-learning authoring tools include Adobe Captivate, Articulate Storyline, and Lectora Inspire.


Asynchronous online learning is a flexible and self-paced approach to distance education that runs through the internet. It allows learners to access course materials and engage with the materials on their own time and wherever they are. The course materials is delivered through an LMS. It may include HTML5 interactive modules, recorded video lessons, online forums, slide presentations, and webinars, which are typically developed with the help of elearning authoring applications. The instructor provides the learners with guidance, structure, and support through pre-recorded lectures, assigned tasks, and online activities. The instructor also assesses the learners' performance and provides feedback while keeping the learners motivated and on track.


Last updated on 08 Feb 2023.

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Instructional design and educational technology for effective learning