Asynchronous Learning

Definition 

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).

Features 

  • Personalization

Designer's Tips 

"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.

Curated Resources: This collection of resources from the field includes models and exemplars, as well as “DIY” guidance to facilitate your exploration of this term. 

Carpe Diem

Description 

This set of videos describes the Carpe Diem model, which is a 50/50 blended learning program. Students use Edgenuity for independent coursework and then meet in content-area classes for additional instructional support.

Resource Type 

  • Video

Publishing Organization 

Carpe Diem

Type of Organization 

  • Government Organization
  • Intermediary or Management Organization

Terms 

Asynchronous Learning
Self-Paced Learning

Digital Learning Now: The Shifts from Cohorts to Competencies

Description 

After reviewing the basic tenets of competency-based education, the authors discuss the ways in which the shift from cohorts to competency can improve student achievement and school performance. The report includes ten helpful design tips for CBE.

Authors 

John Bailey, Carri Schneider, Chris Sturgis, Tom Vander Ark

Resource Type 

  • Report

Publishing Organization 

Digital Learning Now

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Asynchronous Learning
Flexibly-Paced Learning
Self-Paced Learning

Intrinsic Schools

Description 

Alex Hernandez profiles Intrinsic Schools as a breakthrough model for it's student and staff grouping plan, use of time, and implementation of blended learning. The blog post includes some great photos of the school's non-traditional design of the learning space.

Authors 

Alex Hernandez

Resource Type 

  • Blog Post

Publishing Organization 

EdSurge

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Asynchronous Learning
Flexibly-Paced Learning
Self-Paced Learning

Mass Customized Learning Video of a Student scheduling her plan

Description 

This video, developed by Mass Customized Learning, provides a look at building a customized schedule through the eyes of a student. It addresses the types of choices that a typical student might make and how students work with parents and teachers to develop their plans.

Authors 

Chuck Schwahn, Bea McGarvey

Resource Type 

  • Video

Publishing Organization 

Mass Customized Learning

Type of Organization 

  • Government Organization
  • Intermediary or Management Organization

Terms 

Asynchronous Learning
Self-Paced Learning

Mass Customized Learning: Description of a Student Planning her Schedule

Description 

This sample chapter from Mass Customized Learning's book "Inevitable" provides a look at building a customized schedule through the eyes of a student; it addresses the types of choices that a typical student might make.

Authors 

Chuck Schwahn, Bea McGarvey

Resource Type 

  • Book

Publishing Organization 

Mass Customized Learning

Type of Organization 

  • Government Organization
  • Intermediary or Management Organization

Terms 

Asynchronous Learning
Self-Paced Learning

NH Definition of Extended Learning Opportunities

Description 

New Hampshire is committed to providing students Extended Learning Opportunities, or ELO's, which are opportunities to learn outside of brick-and-mortar schools. This site details the state's definition and expectations for ELO's. Designers of mastery learning systems will find their "Four Components of A Rigorous ELO" (research, reflection, product, and presentation) a good starting point for developing performance-based assessments of extended learning.

Resource Type 

  • Website

Publishing Organization 

New Hampshire Department of Education

Type of Organization 

  • Government Organization

Terms 

Learning Opportunities - Extended
Anywhere-Anytime Learning
Asynchronous Learning
Self-Directed Learning
Student-Centered Learning

The Growing Convergence of Community Schools & Expanded Learning Opportunities

Description 

This is a study that reports on efforts to undertake expanded learning opportunities, or ELO's, in community schools. It describes different types of partnerships and relationships in an effort to provide districts and schools with concrete examples of work that is underway. 

Authors 

Reuben Jacobson, Shama Jamal, Linda Jacobson, Martin Blank

Resource Type 

  • Report

Publishing Organization 

Institute for Educational Leadership, Coalition of Community Schools

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Anywhere-Anytime Learning
Asynchronous Learning
Self-Directed Learning
Student-Centered Learning

The Promise of Extended Learning Opportunities: New, Powerful and Personalized Options for High School Students

Description 

This blog post describes both the promise and the challenges inherent in making extended learning opportunities (ELO's) a central component of learning in preparation for career and college. At present ELAO' are primarily add-ons, hamstrung by the laws, policies, and practices that preserve the status quo.

Authors 

Nicholas Donohue

Resource Type 

  • Blog Post

Publishing Organization 

The Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Anywhere-Anytime Learning
Asynchronous Learning
Self-Directed Learning
Student-Centered Learning

Central Falls High School: Extended Learning Opportunities

Description 

Expanded Learning Opportunities, also known as Extended Learning Opportunities or ELO's, provide students with the chance to design their own learning. Educators seeking to create systems to support ELO's will find helpful this collection of resources from Central Falls High School, part of an urban district in Rhode Island.

Resource Type 

  • School-Developed Resources

Publishing Organization 

Central Falls High School

Type of Organization 

  • School or District

Terms 

Learning Outcomes
Anywhere-Anytime Learning
Asynchronous Learning
Self-Directed Learning

Next Generation Learning: Extended Learning Opportunities

Description 

Beginning with the provocative question, 'Does your brain only work when your butt is in a chair?', this brief video makes a case for personalized learning. Created by the Colorado Education Initiative, it could be used by designers or leaders to introduce the big ideas behind personalization to stakeholders.

Resource Type 

  • Video

Publishing Organization 

Colorado Education Initiative

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Learning Outcomes
Anywhere-Anytime Learning
Asynchronous Learning
Self-Directed Learning
Student-Centered Learning

Christensen Institute: Blended Learning Models and Definitions

Description 

This brief article provides quick definitions of four common types of blended learning models: rotation, flex, a la carte, and enriched virtual.

Resource Type 

  • Website

Publishing Organization 

Christensen Institute

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Asynchronous Learning
Blended Learning
Flexibly-Paced Learning
Self-Paced Learning

Spotting Schools' Version of Big Foot

Description 

This article, which is of use to both practitioners and designers, describes how one high school science science teacher used a mixture of planning, technology, and scaffolds to create his classroom's competency-based approach to teaching and learning.

Authors 

Alex Hernandez

Resource Type 

  • Blog Post

Publishing Organization 

EdSurge

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Asynchronous Learning
Flexibly-Paced Learning
Self-Paced Learning

Todd County Learning Targets: Mastery Learning in a High School Math Classroom

Description 

This video offers an unusually detailed view of a teacher using learning targets in a competency-based setting. Among the nuggets are how she helps students decide when they are ready to take a shot at demonstrating proficiency on a particular set of standards through some type of evidence.

Authors 

Jessica Addison

Resource Type 

  • Video

Publishing Organization 

Todd County, Kentucky

Type of Organization 

  • School or District

Terms 

Demonstrations
Formative Assessment
Asynchronous Learning
Flexibly-Paced Learning
Grouping Plan
Learning Progressions
Learning Targets