Types of Online Learning
What type of online course is right for me?
There are two types of online courses at Kishwaukee College: Synchronous and Asynchronous.
The type of online course can be found in the individual class description in Search for Courses and Course Sections.
Synchronous courses (SINK-run-us): Synchronous means “at the same time.” These courses happen online,
but there are regularly scheduled class meetings just like face-to-face classes have.
Everyone meets together online using a tool like Zoom or the D2L Virtual Classroom.
Students and the instructor interact in the moment, and also communicate through email
and discussion boards. Assignments, quizzes, and other activities are due on a weekly
basis, just like in a face-to-face class.
Asynchronous courses (AY-sink-run-us): Asynchronous means “not at the same time.” These courses happen
online, and there are no scheduled class meetings where everyone meets together. Students
interact with the instructor and with each other using email, discussion boards, and
other tools. Lectures may be presented as pre-recorded audio files or videos. Assignments,
quizzes, and other activities are due on a weekly basis, just like in a face-to-face
class. Most online courses at Kishwaukee College are asynchronous.
- Allows for real time interaction. Students may ask questions, participate in discussion,
and react to new material in a live setting.
- Students tend to develop a greater sense of connection with other students and with
the professor, which can reflect positively in performance and retention.
- For students with generally open and flexible schedules, synchronous courses can actually
make their online coursework easier to pursue, as it comes with a set schedule similar
to face-to-face coursework.
- Students who have trouble focusing in online courses may benefit from synchronous
courses; a set schedule creates accountability.
- The traditional scheduling of synchronous courses, with the courses requiring students
attend at a set time, is not ideal for everyone. Students with busy professional schedules
or demanding personal lives may have difficulty attending class at 2:00 P.M. every
- Some students enjoy the social dynamic of a traditional classroom, but others feel
overwhelmed and stressed.
- A stronger internet connection is required for the two-way communication in synchronous
courses, making it difficult for students with DSL or other lower-bandwidth connections.
- Asynchronous courses provide flexibility. Students can do coursework when, where,
and how they want.
- Students with demanding circumstances in their personal lives (work, children, family
demands) find that asynchronous courses allow them to schedule coursework around their
lifestyle, rather than their lifestyle around their courses.
- Asynchronous courses allow students to approach classes with more time to study and
respond to material.
- Students who are not comfortable in group settings, find the social pressures of attending
a class become a non-issue.
- Many students may find asynchronous courses difficult due to the sense of distance
that comes with these courses. Without live interaction, asynchronous courses may
feel tedious or dull to students who need a stronger sense of community.
- The flexibility of asynchronous courses can become a burden, requiring a higher level
of personal accountability than synchronous courses. Students need to have a system
in place to ensure they complete their coursework on time.
- Not everyone learns best through reading and remote interaction. Some students need
live interaction, active discussion, and a more traditional model of teaching in order
- If a course requires group work or group projects, scheduling and collaborating with
other students may become an issue.