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What is synchronous e-learning and how can it be effective?

3 min reading time

Synchronous learning is standard practice for most educational facilities and has been for a great many years. It’s simply a teaching method in which learners and instructors engage in learning activities at the same time. Over the last several years, however, it has become ubiquitous within the world of online learning, with many referring to it as ‘synchronous e-learning. But what is synchronous e-learning and how can it be effective? Keep reading to find out. 


What is synchronous e-learning? 

Traditional classroom-based teaching typically utilises the synchronous learning method, with a teacher leading the session while students listen and interact with one another in a face-to-face learning environment. But in the digital age, synchronous learning is no longer bound within the four walls of a physical classroom – it can be carried out anywhere. 

Synchronous e-learning bridges the gap between traditional classrooms and virtual learning environments (VLEs) by using online learning technology.  

With today’s virtual classroom technology, video conferencing tools and e-learning platforms such as a learning experience platform (LXP), learners and instructors can experience the benefits of face-to-face learning while taking advantage of the flexibility and accessibility of learning online. 


Examples of synchronous e-learning 

  • Webinars 
  • Live lectures 
  • Seminars using video conferencing tools 
  • Breakout rooms for online discussions 

So, what is synchronous e-learning good for? Many online learning sceptics have concerns about the lack of opportunities for collaboration and peer-to-peer learning, but synchronous e-learning can negate these fears. Synchronous e-learning practices replicate the dynamic and interactive learning experiences of face-to-face learning and with the right tools, these experiences can be enhanced tenfold. Keep reading as we share some examples of how to achieve this further on. 

One of the most important benefits of synchronous e-learning is creating opportunities for immediate feedback. Learners can ask questions in real-time, allowing instructors to be highly responsive to the needs of learners while creating a supportive environment in which learners can thrive.

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What’s the difference between synchronous and asynchronous e-learning? 

Asynchronous learning is a self-paced learning method, and unlike synchronous learning, it doesn’t rely on real-time interaction. With asynchronous e-learning, learners can engage with online learning content at their own pace by accessing L&D materials via an e-learning platform. 

This learning method offers a great deal of flexibility, but it requires discipline as learners need to be motivated enough to complete learning without the presence of an instructor and without attending scheduled sessions. On the other hand, synchronous e-learning requires learners to be present and engaged with any teaching, allowing instructors to assess engagement levels in real time.

What’s the difference between synchronous and asynchronous e-learning_

Unlike synchronous e-learning, interaction between instructors and students doesn’t take place in real-time, so learners can’t expect to receive answers to any questions or feedback immediately. Looking to get the best of both worlds? Try adopting a hybrid approach. Here learners can complete some learning asynchronously in addition to attending online sessions in which instructors can address any questions and offer guidance in real time.

Read our ultimate guide to asynchronous learning here.


How to make synchronous e-learning effective 

Like the sound of synchronous e-learning? Here are some of our top tips for getting the best results out of this learning method. 


Offer variety 

Synchronous e-learning allows you to take advantage of a diverse range of online tools, features, and delivery formats. Imagine this, you’re using virtual classroom technology to teach a lecture and want to boost engagement levels by asking learners to contribute to the session. With a feature such as discussion polls, you can share polling questions which will pop up on the screen for your learners to answer during the session. Using this feature not only encourages learners to play an active role but you can also use the polling results to facilitate further discussions.

By utilising a range of e-learning tools, you can bring your synchronous learning opportunities to life. Moving away from simple instructor-led teaching, you can rotate between a variety of teaching methods and seamlessly incorporate multimedia elements such as interactive presentations, videos, and audio clips, all of which will produce higher engagement levels.

What is synchronous e-learning and how can it be effective


Encourage collaboration 

Creating a shared learning experience for your learners by encouraging active participation and collaboration is easily achieved with synchronous e-learning. Referring back to the polling questions example above, you can ask learners to collaborate further by discussing the results of the polling questions and using these to inform a learning activity. Using a tool such as breakout rooms in Microsoft Teams, you can divide learners into smaller groups where they can engage with one another in a more intimate environment, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to voice their thoughts whilst taking a deeper dive into the subject matter. 


Use the right tools 

Your synchronous e-learning practices can only be effective if you use the right tools and technology. Why not take advantage of AI? Today’s AI tools can play a significant role in elevating synchronous e-learning, with examples such as improving video and audio quality, and AI assistants to support instructors during live lectures. 

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Whether delivering synchronous or asynchronous e-learning, you need an online learning system that offers all the functionality and tools that will allow you to achieve the best results. Our Totara TXP provides you with everything you need to create a virtual learning environment that elevates traditional offline learning. 

Features such as the seminar function in the Totara Learn LMS allow you to schedule sessions while monitoring attendance, giving you full control over synchronous learning activities. And, with the Totara Engage LXP, your learners can benefit from a number of collaborative features that will enhance and support synchronous e-learning activities. Find out more here. 

Get to know our powerful, all-in-one TXP here, or if you’d like to find out more about what a Hubken solution can do for your synchronous e-learning practices – get in touch with one of our e-learning experts today. 

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