What is the Difference Between Synchronous and Asynchronous Online Business Administration Degrees?

An online business administration degree may be offered through both synchronous and asynchronous platforms. Synchronous classes follow traditional formats that require students and teachers to be simultaneously online for lectures and discussions at specific hours. Asynchronous classes are the opposite because students will have an assigned deadline to complete tests, lectures and assignments. These students are allowed to decide when they study, contribute and access content.

Synchronous Platforms

Synchronous platforms create learning environments that offer meaningful interactions that resemble traditional, face-to-face academic settings. Synchronous learning platforms support learning and teaching that utilizes various ways of sharing information, interacting with others and asking questions in real-time. Virtual classrooms stimulate student participation just like campus classrooms. Synchronous education platforms support the development of online learning communities.

This process is naturally social, so it encourages student engagement, and it also reduces learning frustration, so it increases student performance. Synchronous distance education technology includes webcasts, podcasts, instant messaging, video conferencing and interactive learning mode. To illustrate, synchronous chat rooms allow multiple students to interact, share resources, ask questions and debate topics. Chat rooms work best with small classes. They allow students to archive the session for later review.

Related resource: 20 Best Online Schools for Business Administration 2016-2017

Synchronous Technology Examples

Voice-over IP (VoIP) technology allows students to dial into a website and speak through microphones. This eliminates long-distance phone charges and helps students to connect with each other. Video conferencing uses headsets and webcams to stimulate a virtual conversation. Transmitting the live video feed of a dozen online students will clog the school’s Internet bandwidth, so most online professors prefer to present a live feed from a classroom with a presentation of slides and graphics.

After the lecture is concluded, students take turns asking questions and interacting with each other. Video conferences come with a live-chat option for instant messaging. Lecture podcasts are popular because they allow students to focus on content without having to struggle to take immediate notes. Some of the earliest and most successful colleges with online degree programs, such as MIT and the University of Berkeley, pioneered the use of free, archived lecture podcasts available to the public.

Asynchronous Technology Platforms and Examples

Asynchronous distance education platforms are almost identical to their synchronous sister, but there are no live log-in and participation requirements. Asynchronous platforms use virtual libraries that contain digital video, audio, textbooks, presentations and documents. There are usually detailed syllabuses that help students independently follow and complete courses at their own paces. Discussion boards, which are also integral to synchronous platforms, are the main tool of asynchronous learning platforms. This academic pillar of distance education allows instructors to post weekly discussion topics, monitor responses and encourage students to interact with each other.

Most online degree programs will rely on email for sending out updates, reminders, materials, assessments and communication. Many online learning platforms use social networking technology to enhance collaboration and student interactions. Wikis, or collaborative document systems, allow students to edit and comment on each other’s work. Some online schools now use special software that allows students to create digital portfolios for academic and personal use.

Overall, there are pros and cons to both types of online learning for an online business administration degree. Extroverted students may prefer synchronous classes because they feel involved with the class experience. Asynchronous courses provide introverted students with more time and flexibility to study and complete assignments.