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Asynchronous learning is learning that happens independant of time and space. Learners are able to interact with course materials and with each other at a time of their choosing. A discussion thread is an example of an asynchronous learning. One learner can post a thought, and hours (or days) later, another learner can comment on the posting.

Asynchronous learning gives elearning much of its appeal. Traditionally, students needed to be physically present to engage in learning with other students. Now, learners can engage each other when it is most convenient...and, a knowledge trail is left of discussions. In synchronous learning the discussion vanishes (unless it is recorded and indexed)...asynchronously, students that are trailing behind in course work still receive the benefit of being able to read discussion posts.

Asynchronous learning frees elearning from the requirements of time and space. This is perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of elearning. Learners across different time zones and different continents can now participate in the same courses. Content can be explored and discussed in great depth - allowing learners time to reflect and formulate thoughtful responses. Asyncrhonous tools like listservs, email, discussion forums have transformed how people communicate and share knowledge.


Asynchrnous Learning Networks
"Asynchronous Learning Networks (ALN) are people networks for anytime - anywhere learning. ALN combines self-study with substantial, rapid, asynchronous interactivity with others. In ALN learners use computer and communications technologies to work with remote learning resources, including coaches and other learners, but without the requirement to be online at the same time. The most common ALN communication tool is the World Wide Web."

Changing the Interface of Education with Revolutionary Learning Technologies
Offers a valuable chart of five fundamental learning styles for asynchronous instruction.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous: Some Thoughts
"The topic at hand in synchronous vs. asynchronous communication. In speaking with thousands of educators all over the world, as I have the privilege of having done and continue to do, I am always a little surprised when people speak of asynchronous communication as the necessary, but vastly inferior alternative to synchronous communication. Keep in mind, not everyone tells me this, but enough do that it caught my attention. It is their view that once the infrastructure and software for high quality synchronous communication is ubiquitous, asynchronous communication will go away. The only reason we use it now is because it is cheap and plentiful, and the bandwidth, software and equipment needed for synchronous is not quite there yet. I couldn't disagree more."

Supporting Collaborative Learning in Asynchronous Learning Networks
" Asynchronous Learning Networks (ALNs) use Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) to support online courses of study, in which anytime, anywhere access to interactions among the students and the teacher/facilitator is a key element. The asynchronous nature of the interaction leads to new paradigms for teaching and learning, with both unique problems of coordination and unique opportunities to support active, collaborative (group or team-based) learning. Collaborative learning appears to be crucial to the effectiveness of online learning environments."

Asynchronous CAL Modules and Courses
Extensive asynchronous resources listed. See also: Using Asynchronous Network Courses to Bridge Gaps

Asynchronous Online Learning Instructor Competencies (.pdf)
"The following asynchronous online learning instructor competencies come from educational research, as well as personal experience as an online learning student, instructor, and instructional designer."

Examples of asynchronous tutorials, free demos are available.

All links verified June 2005.


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