Asynchronous communication

Strategies for learning and teaching

Asynchronous communication involves a time delay in the transmission of information between two or more contributors. Contributors do not always immediately receive or respond to shared information. Common methods used for asynchronous communication in online learning include discussion forums and e-mail communications. 

In the teaching and learning environment asynchronous communication allows students and educators time to research and reflect on topics and concepts prior to formulating a response.

Asynchronous tools allow students and educators to connect at each person’s convenience and own schedule, and the history of group interactions is easily captured and shared.

  • Social media tools allow educators to share their interests and thoughts with a smaller group with common interests. These tools can connect students with the community, professional development opportunities and future employers.
  • Discussion boards can contribute to the development of students’ critical thinking and writing skills. Choose a manageable topic with clear scope and boundaries, and demonstrate that you are present so students remain focused.
  • Students must understand how their participation in blogs and discussions will be evaluated.   What are your specific evaluation criteria? Do they need to post a certain number of times? How often? Should they include additional information or references?

For more information on online discussion board facilitation, visit Edutopia’s Mastering Online Discussion Board Facilitation Resource Guide

Supported technologies

Announcements
Each subject or community site has an Announcements page where teaching staff can post information about subject activity. Announcements can include text, images, media content, and links to websites and other files.

Blogs 
The Blog (web log) tool allows individuals or groups to post reflective writing and topical commentary within a subject or community. The posts are presented in reverse chronological order and can be commented on.

Journals 
A tool for students to create subject notes or reflective journal entries that need only be set up once for the whole class and can be kept private between the subject lecturer and individual students.

Discussion Board 
The Discussion board is a time and location independent communications tool that can be used to facilitate a text-based exchange of ideas within a Subject or Community site.

Email 
Email can be sent to members of a subject or community via the Email tool. This tool facilitates selective communication with various combinations of student and staff users based on their role or group membership in the subject or community.

Further resources