10 invaluable tips to develop asynchronous learning

• 6 min read

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been tasked with creating an asynchronous eLearning course. And if you’re here, chances are you’re looking for ideas to help you to deliver the best eLearning experience possible. We’ve pulled together 10 asynchronous learning tips to get all the information you need in a fraction of the time.

But, before we get to the tips, it’s probably worthwhile to cover how asynchronous learning differs from synchronous learning. (Feel free to skip down to the first tip if this is old news to you.)

Synchronous vs. asynchronous learning

Synchronous learning (at its name implies) happens at the same time, whereas asynchronous learning does not. (Yep, it’s that obvious.) But the distinction between the two goes beyond just time. The learning tools and learning environment can often differ.

Some tools and formats lend themselves better to one type of learning than the other. For example, in-person setups (like physical classrooms) or live, scheduled events (like zoom video conferencing) are better suited for synchronous learning. Whereas more flexible formats (like online classes that can be completed at one’s own pace and on their own time) are more conducive for asynchronous learning.

But that’s not to say some tools and formats can’t be used in both synchronous and asynchronous learning. In cases where the same tools are used, how they are used differs.

Same tools, different experience

Consider how the pandemic has caused a huge shift to remote learning. Because of this, organizations are relying more and more on online, digital learning tools, like webinars and virtual classrooms. In a synchronous scenario, all learners would be present at the same time to participate in the live webinar or attend scheduled online classes. But in an asynchronous scenario, learners would watch the webinar on-demand or complete online classes on their own schedule.

Both scenarios involve remote learning, an internet connection, the same learning tools, and even the same course materials, but the learning experience is very different. One takes place in real-time and encourages learner engagement with instructors, while the other is independent, puts learners in charge of their own learning, and in many cases, more convenient for learners–especially when they’re spread across multiple time zones (which is just one of the many benefits of asynchronous learning).

Alright, now that we got that out of the way, let’s jump into our 10 asynchronous learning tips to help you save time.

1. Incorporate a variety of different eLearning activities
Self-guided learners need a variety of different activities to cater to their individual learning styles. This also helps to prevent boredom, thereby boosting engagement and learner participation. Include video presentations, audio narratives, interactive scenarios, and text-based modules in order not only to add variety to your eLearning course content, but also to make it more exciting and customized to the particular needs of your audience.

2. Use stories and real world examples to boost motivation
One of the main challenges of designing an asynchronous eLearning course is creating a connection with your learners. They may feel isolated from the eLearning community, as a whole, which hinders them from actively participating. This is why it’s important to integrate stories, real world examples, and anecdotes that tie into the subject matter. Use humor whenever possible to keep it light and entertaining for your learners. Just make sure that it serves the learning goals and objectives.

3. Give them a helping virtual hand
Even learners who are working autonomously need support from time to time. They may encounter a technical glitch that prevents them from progressing in the eLearning course, or they may need help, in order to understand a more complex idea or concept. Whatever the case may be, they need access to reliable support, such as an email, a contact form, discussion boards, a video chat with the online course facilitator, etc. Since they won’t be able to get help from a face-to-face instructor, you should offer them an alternative form of assistance that addresses their concerns and answers the pressing questions.

4. Break the eLearning course down into bite-size modules
Chances are, your learners aren’t going to be willing or able to sit through an hour-long eLearning session, thanks to busy schedules and other distractions. This is why it’s essential to break your eLearning course down into smaller modules that are easily digestible. Ideally, these modules should be of about 15 to 20 minutes long, if not shorter, so that your learners can complete each one of them, when convenient. You should also make it easy for them to start where they left off by including an online course map or progress bar they can click to access the next module they want to access in the eLearning course.

5. Make your design intuitive and user-friendly
Your eLearning course should have simple and straightforward navigation controls, as well as an intuitive design that guides learners through the eLearning experience rather than frustrating them. Make sure that all links are active by checking the buttons and hyperlinks frequently, and provide instructions on how they should navigate in the eLearning course.

6. Stress the real-world benefits from the start
Your asynchronous learners are going to need all the motivation they can get, especially those who aren’t particularly inspired to learn in the first place. As such, you will want to stress the real world benefits of completing the eLearning course even before they hit that ‘start’ button. Let them know how they can use the subject in their real lives, and which specific skill sets they are developing, as well as how each particular piece of new knowledge is going to improve their lives. In short, let them know what are they can get out of your eLearning course.

7. Tap into their intrinsic motivation
While external rewards may be a great motivator, it’s the intrinsic motivation that truly counts. Intrinsic motivation is fuelled by inner rewards, such as the desire to expand their knowledge base and build their skill sets. Typically, learners who are intrinsically motivated fare better in self-guided eLearning courses than those who rely on extrinsic motivation. So, figure out what motivates them by doing some audience research, such as conducting surveys or focus groups, and then cater to their needs when creating the eLearning course.

8. Encourage group collaboration to provide peer-based support
Another key element that is often lacking in asynchronous courses is collaboration. Therefore, you may want to consider integrating message boards, forums, and project management platforms into your eLearning design to give them the opportunity to get peer feedback. They can share their experiences and work together to solve common challenges, even though they are completing online assignments on their own.

9. Put their knowledge to use
No learning experience is complete without an effective assessment strategy, and this is doubly important for asynchronous eLearning courses. You must integrate exams or quizzes to test learners’ knowledge and check their progress. Doing so also gives them the chance to gauge their own progress, so that they can fix incorrect learning behaviors and improve upon their weaknesses.

10. Strike a balance between entertaining and enlightening
It’s true, the most successful asynchronous eLearning courses are fun, engaging, and entertaining, but these elements should not overshadow the real purpose of the eLearning course, which is learning! Include plenty of interactive exercises, humorous stories, and other immersive eLearning activities, but always have the learning goals and objectives in mind.The trick to creating an effective and engaging asynchronous learning course is making your learners feel connected not only to the eLearning course material, but to the online learning community as a whole. So, use these tips to immerse them in the eLearning experience and get them excited about acquiring new knowledge and skill sets.

Want to learn more tips on how to create effective asynchronous learning experiences for your audience? Read the article 6 Tips For Creating Engaging Asynchronous Online Training Courses to find out 6 more ways to further engage your learners into your next asynchronous eLearning course.


Author: Christopher Pappas

Christopher Pappas is founder of The eLearning Industry’s Network. Currently, the eLearning Industry has a network of more than 250,000 professionals involved in the eLearning Industry. He is also the Founder and Owner of the Instructional Design and eLearning Professionals’ Group, which is the largest online community of professionals involved in the eLearning Industry at LinkedIn. You can connect with Christopher on Linkedin and Twitter.