A student-centered learning approach provides students with the tools and assets they need in order to learn at their own pace. Asynchronous learning environments can also provide students with choices about the sequence and focus of their learning (as occurs in self-paced and flexibly-paced learning environments), but this is not a required feature of asynchronous learning. Asynchronous learning differs from a cohort model, in which students are grouped (by age, and often by ability as well), and then expected to progress at a synchronized rate. It is also slightly different from flexibly-paced learning, which allows students a range of time to undertake tasks, but sets some limits on the pace primarily in order to protect students from falling behind. (See Self-Paced Learning and flexibly-Paced Learning).
"To ensure that asynchronous learning (see definition) does not exacerbate existing inequities in educational access and achievement, more and more educators are implementing “flexible pacing” plans, rather than pure self-paced models. This makes more sense when students are following a similar path to graduation, with similar coursework and performance tasks. In programs where students have primary agency and choice over their path, self-pacing may be a more appropriate approach. One advantage of flexible-pacing (over self-pacing) is that it is fairly easy to implement within a classroom. Two of the resources in this collection provide strong examples of this: the Video of Jessica Addison's Trigonometry class, and the EdSurge Blog Post describing Shane Donovan's Physics class.
Explore our featured Slideshow and tool--""Creative Scheduling & Grouping Plans” and “Schedule & Calendar Prototyping Tool""--to begin working on a design to support asynchronous learning."
Tips for a Short Implementation Time-Line
In a short-timeline, schools often begin by instituting flexible pacing (see definition) at the classroom level. Alternatively, schools will devote one or two time blocks during the day for indepently-paced student learning. This "pilot" or "prototype" approach, gives everyone some time to learn the skills and habits required for effectively self-paced learning. Over time, this can become a more central feature of one's program.