The University of Western Australia

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Alternative Modes of Teaching and Learning

Alternative modes of delivery

Asynchronous Learning


Asynchronous learning simply refers to the provision of learning opportunities and support that can take place or be accessed at any time, ie. is not fixed to standard timetabled lectures, seminars, labs etc.

Webster's Dictionary defines asynchronous as "not synchronous" or not happening at precisely the same time. Through asynchronous learning (AL) technology faculty can supplement classroom teaching with additional information about the course such as lecture notes, links to related Internet sites, multi-media applications of audio and video, homework problems and solutions, on-line reference materials, on-line quizzes, immediate grading and feedback, as well as being more available to students electronically. AL offers the students an additional venue to access information at their convenience, to communicate with each other or the instructor, to exchange information in group discussions, and to collaborate in problem solving sessions remotely; the instructor can monitor and guide the discussions as needed and gauge students' progress. Preliminary data suggest that the use of interactive computer-mediated communication technology in the classroom significantly enhances the learning process by increasing student performance as well as faculty productivity.

Introduction to CAL
Centre for Asynchronous Learning - Bradley University, Illinois

Asynchronous instruction does not require the simultaneous participation of all students and instructors. Students do not need to be gathered together in the same location at the same time. Rather, students may choose their own instructional time frame and gather learning materials according to their schedules. Asynchronous instruction is more flexible than synchronous instruction. Moreover, in the case of telecommunications such as email, asynchronous instruction allows and even may encourage community development. Forms of asynchronous delivery include email, listservs, audiocassette courses, videotaped courses, correspondence courses, and WWW-based courses (though WWW will probably offer synchronous formats in the near future).
The advantages of asynchronous delivery include student choice of location and time, and (in the case of telecommunications such as email) interaction opportunities for all students. A disadvantage to consider with email-based interaction is the considerable written exchange.

What is Distance Education?
by Virginia Steiner


  • Allows students to access material at any time
  • Supplements classroom resources
  • Allows student and instructors to communicate with each other at any time


  • Loss of face to face contact, if this were the only mode
  • Possibility for overload of resource material
  • Possible loss of a sense of continuity and immediacy

Resources and References

Collaborating with Faculty in Preparing Students for the Asynchronous Classroom

College Connection

Computer Conferencing on the Web
A guide to software that powers discussion forums on the Web.

Electronic Learning in a Digital World

IAT: The Monitor, October 1, 1996
The Institute for Academic Technology
Re-Locating Literary Teaching and Learning with VRML

Ideas for using Internet for Instruction

Ideas for using Internet for Instruction

LearningWeb Course Catalogue

Moving Beyond Campus-Bound Education

Robin Mason's Choice Clicks

Summary of Computer-Supported Asynchronous Cooperative Learning

Teaching Argumentation Skills in an Electronic Mail Environment

Marttunen, M., Teaching Argumentation Skills in an Electronic Mail Environment. IETI, 1997. 34(3): p. 208 - 218.

The WWW - Opportunities for an Integrated Approach to Teaching and Research in Science

TILT - Teaching with Independent Learning Technologies - University of Glasgow - home page

The Web of Asynchronous Learning Networks

Virtual Conference Centre - Join a Conference

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