Did you know that remote learning first surfaced on college campuses in the 1980s with the advent of new technologies? Before the 21st century, this new education model was known as “distance learning.”
Online, or virtual, learning has since become the norm over the past several years. Due to the demands and needs of students, institutions now offer two pathways to earn a master’s degree: online asynchronous and synchronous classes.
What is the difference between Asynchronous and Synchronous Classes?
Understanding the differences between asynchronous and synchronous classes is important for any prospective student. This will enable you to determine the best learning environment for your master’s level education as each student is unique in how concepts are processed and understood. It is important to note, however, that both asynchronous and synchronous class groups are given ample opportunities to connect with their professors one-on-one and join their classmates at networking events.
Asynchronous learning includes any education, instruction, or learning mechanism that does not occur in the same place or at the same time. Therefore, asynchronous classes are not confined to the classroom or a specific schedule. With asynchronous online degree programs, there are no live lectures. Instead, students can access and view instructional materials at their convenience each week through school-sponsored online software. For instance, learners can access pre-recorded lectures on their course’ website and post any of their follow-up questions on a course message board. Although students must complete quizzes, tests, and assignments within set due dates, the schedule is more self-paced.
For students who will also be working and prioritize flexibility, it’s a convenient learning style. With asynchronous learning, the student dictates their learning schedule. While they still need to complete assignments within a certain time period, students can access and review materials whenever they choose. Synchronous classes are learner-centered, removing the challenge of time (and locale), students more ownership of their schedule. This is a big shift from the traditional learning style and meets the student’s needs through total empowerment.
A drawback of asynchronous classes is the lack of live group discussions. Message boards and other discussion platforms exist, but live conversation and verbal exchange are not central to asynchronous courses.
Synchronous learning refers to any form of instruction or education that occurs simultaneously but not necessarily in the same place. In the context of an online program, synchronous classes are live, remote, and abide by a set semester schedule. Students are expected to log in and participate throughout the week at set times as class discussions take place in real time. Synchronous learning is considered the more traditional learning mode and is preferred for course progression.
Many students feel that this is the best of both worlds. They benefit from interacting with their classmates and instructors “live” in the comfort of their own homes, offices, or wherever they choose to participate. It is the perfect blend of traditional learning and flexibility. For instance, students can log in wherever is most convenient, collaborate with others, and engage in deep discussions with their peers and professors. They can also fine-tune presentation skills in front of a live audience and get immediate answers to their questions.
Types of Online Classes at Johns Hopkins University
Earning an advanced degree has never been more convenient with virtual learning. With so many students balancing work and families, online programs now make students the true navigators of their ships. For instance, Johns Hopkins University’s Engineering for Professionals has offered online graduate engineering courses since 2001. Understanding the importance of different learning styles and preferences, the program’s busy students may opt for one of these types of courses in lieu of an in-person program:
- Virtual Live (synchronous)
- Hybrid (a mix of asynchronous and synchronous)
With more than 20 graduate engineering programs, students can earn a master’s degree in engineering from top-ranked Johns Hopkins University fully online. There is a vast selection of asynchronous and synchronous course delivery options led by experienced professional engineers and renowned faculty. Take a look at the programs they offer and learn more about how you can start your master’s journey from your home country.