What is asynchronous learning?

Synchronous learning classes are run in real-time and can include in-person and virtual web conference software like Zoom or Skype. Asynchronous classes have all the course material accessible online and students can access it at different times and at different locations. Online synchronous courses are typically like a traditional classroom with scheduled class time and live discussion. Asynchronous courses allow students to listen to and study the course materials on their own schedule and communicate with other students on their own time. 

Asynchronous learning allows more flexibility in the time they choose to learn and the pace to absorb the course content. The course instructor will set up a prescribed order for the materials, but students can choose how much time they spend on the materials. The course materials are designed to cover specific topics and present reading, articles, videos, recorded lectures, and self-guided activities to teach the skills and concepts for the topic. Skills and knowledge are applied and accessed through assignments, quizzes, and discussion boards. 


  • Students have the flexibility to access the materials on their own schedule. 
  • Students can focus on more challenging content and spend less time on lighter content. 


  • Students must manage their own time and be accountable for due dates and deadlines
  • Students must identify learning difficulties and be prepared to ask for help from the instructor
  • Students need to manage possible distractions

      The benefits of flexibility and control are outweighed by some students’ need for a social environment that is found in the classroom. Learners with extroverted personalities may prefer the social environment found in a synchronous classroom. Students with introverted personalities benefit from the solitary, asynchronous course. The pace of the synchronous course is typically managed by the schedule, the teacher, the topics, and the pace of the rest of the class. The students in the asynchronous program must be self-motivated and proactive to stay on track

      The asynchronous approach allows the student to spend as much time as they need with the material. They can take more time with a difficult subject and do not need to wait for the rest of the class if they understand the material and want to move on. Students can take more time with the material and edit their thought before posting online.  This approach also works well for students that want to fast-track their program or take fewer classes if they have other obligations. 

      HCI Resources for Asynchronous Learner

      Canvas is the learning management system for managing asynchronous learning in the HCI program. The following sections are important 

      • Home Page: Typically the landing page when first entering the course. This should include a brief description of the course, the instructor’s contact information, and instructions on how to start. 
      • Modules: The basic layout of pages in Canvas. Typically these are the pages and assignments that are covered in a week.
      • Syllabus: The learning contract that includes what will be taught, how the course will be graded, and the rules and expectations for students and instructors. 
      • Inbox and Announcements: The primary means of communication. The announcement includes weekly status and updates from the instructor and the inbox is the communication between the instructor and students. 
      • Grades and Calendar and ToDo list: Functions in Canvas to assign work, can be organized and managed in different ways
      • Account (click on your picture) – Use this section to set up notifications and services
      • Dashboard and Courses: The dashboard and course list are the primary ways to access an individual course in Canvas. Students can only access courses that they have registered for. 

      Other Resources – The left toolbar links to many helpful student services:

      Library – The Bellevue College Library includes many online resources and services

      Academic Success Center – Tutoring services are available in the Academic Success Center

      Office 365 – Link to free Microsoft application for BC students

      Student rights – Links to policies on the BC website 

      Disability Rights – Links to the Disability Resource Center

      Books – Follett and Brytewave distribute books and resources from the BC Bookstore

      Last Updated January 3, 2023