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Teaching Tip 5: Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Interaction

Author: CIECT

[Discussion Forums, Chat Room, Meetings/BigBlueButton]

As we are moving into an era where online teaching will take centre-stage, it is important to understand how online teaching methodologies (eLearning) differs from the traditional, face-to-face teaching methodologies. Trying to replicate the traditional mode will not always be the most effective for the online learner. Students will be required to be self-directed learners and your online teaching methodology should reflect this. As online learning can be data intensive, it is also important that digital media components are kept simple and easily accessible to all.


Hence, there are important points to consider when taking your course online, listed alongside iKamva eTools which can be used for these purposes:


  1. Sequencing & scaffolding of learning content (Lessons eTool)
  2. Regular contact with students (Announcements)
  3. Student interaction & knowledge building (Discussion Forums & Meetings)
  4. Formative & Summative Assessments linked to each learning unit (Test Quizzes,  Assignments eTools)
  5. Synchronous vs Asynchronous Interaction (Discussion Forums, Chat Room, Meetings [BigBlueButton])

There are two kinds of online interaction that can take place, both with their own benefits and limitations. Try to include both types of interaction in your online environment in order to accommodate a wider range of students.


Synchronous interaction & learning takes place in real-time, meaning that students are able to receive immediate responses and/or feedback. Examples of synchronous learning include the use of video conferencing tools such as BigBlueButton or Google Hangouts/Meetings. This is essentially a virtual classroom environment, but it can incur high data costs; and not always the most viable option for students.


Asynchronous interaction does not have to take place in real time. This has benefits for the student such as giving them time to formulate their responses without interruption. It is generally less data-intensive; and the student can interact at their own pace or when they have the means to do so. Discussion Forums are an example of asynchronous interaction, and can be utilised on the iKamva platform.


Contact the CIECT Team to assist you with your online environment.


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