Asynchronous learning isn't just a second-rate compromise for Zoomed-out teams. There are learning benefits, too. In fact, a recent study reported that being synchronous had little to do with student engagement or how much a student learned. Interestingly, the students who were asynchronous gained more skills in the area of autonomous learning, which shows that an asynchronous setting can encourage learners to be independent and enterprising.
Asynchronous learning doesn't have to be one-way streaming of information, where learners engage with training material in isolation. With the move to hybrid and remote work, there's an opportunity to cultivate community around asynchronous courses by baking collaboration into every aspect.
Here we take you through different examples of asynchronous learning to deliver engaging training to your employees. Keep in mind that these asynchronous learning examples can and should be made mobile-friendly to make learning even more accessible and convenient.
With online courses, digital training is freely available for learners to enroll in at their convenience in an asynchronous setting. Employees find this attractive because they can upskill and grow in their jobs without having to go back to school to pursue a degree in a formal setting.
Online courses were widely viewed as a revolution in access to higher education when they first appeared on the scene. Since then, online education has taken root as a viable learning option. In a Harvard Business Review survey, 72% of respondents said they experienced career benefits, and 61% experienced educational benefits after taking an online course.
Open online courses can be created in different formats:
Typically, it can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks to create an open online course. A Collaborative Learning authoring tool can empower your internal experts to quickly share knowledge by creating online learning courses in minutes, as well as integrating existing online courses into new learning experiences.
A company wiki is a cluster of web pages or a site where you can store, share, and regularly update your course material. Wikis are a useful facilitator for asynchronous learning because they provide a single source of truth, and learners can access information about company processes and policies with an easy search.
In the mid-1990s, scientists and engineers used the first wikis to create living knowledge bases so that subject-matter experts (SMEs) could create content on the fly and keep it open for views and comments.
Today, in a remote learning environment, company wikis play a critical role in sharing valuable institutional knowledge and promoting organizational learning. During the pandemic, when in-person collaboration came to a halt for most, some companies took to live co-editing of wikis to bring people together.
To create an internal company wiki, choose a wiki tool like Notion or Confluence that is easy to install and configure and that has integration capabilities. That way, you can import your company’s existing course content into the new wiki. You can then enlist SMEs to create new content and link to internal pages where relevant.
A discussion forum allows learners to ask questions and give feedback in real time, giving asynchronous learning a social and collaborative direction. Employees can engage SMEs by tagging them, which helps crowdsource answers quickly and easily.
On-the-job interactions with peers, experts, and managers drive 80% of corporate learning. Employees learn better and faster when they exchange knowledge and diverse viewpoints. Online discussion boards facilitate this type of peer training without a need to set up synchronous learning. While average course completion rates are 20-30% in the training industry, a discussion forum can boost this rate to 90% and increase knowledge retention.
Feedback isn't always considered a straight-up learning method, but it is a source of learning and helps improve employee performance. Constructive feedback in the form of comments, reviews, relevance scores, Reactions, and updates from peers motivates and engages employees.
A peer feedback loop enables co-workers to give immediate feedback in an asynchronous setting via comments within a course, reactions about whether it was helpful, or notes when a part of the material needs updating. Peer feedback enables every employee to become a subject matter expert and share their expertise, making room for a two-way learning environment.
L&D expert Mirjam Neelen believes peer feedback should be relevant and specific and can fall under three categories:
Workplaces with coaching cultures put peer feedback at the heart of their training. So, team members learn from a community of coworkers through a collaborative process instead of just a single mentor.
Learners forget 65% of learning material within a week and would rather access information when they need it while performing a specific task. Videos and pre-recorded webinars are easily accessible by an unlimited number of learners. Especially when learners are spread across time zones, videos are cost-effective and useful because they can be rewatched as many times as needed.
People don’t want to be tied to a time or place or to a Zoom slot. They want to be in control of their own schedules and prefer asynchronous learning in all aspects of their life. A pediatrician who wanted to offer live courses for first-year parents once a month surveyed prospective parents to learn about their preferences. A majority of respondents preferred to watch a blend of pre-recorded webinars they could watch anytime with only occasional scheduled time with the pediatrician.
Videos and webinars can easily be recorded, edited, and shared to the relevant course page in your LMS. Plus, you can make training videos interactive by including questions and quizzes, which employees complete in their own time, boosting learning and knowledge retention.
Related: How to Create Effective Training Videos: 5 Formats and Examples
Gamifying training material makes asynchronous learning interactive and fun. In training, just like in education, gamification has a proven impact by increasing engagement and motivation and producing better learning outcomes.
Through gamification, learners receive rewards and achievements for reaching a learning milestone. Co-workers compete with each other to earn badges, which motivates them to complete learning goals.
For example, after completing a course on customer support training, a learner can play a game that outlines different options for resolving a customer complaint. The learner has to pick the right answer from a list of possible choices. A wrong answer prompts the learner with the correct option, while a correct answer brings the learner closer to earning a badge or a trophy.
While asynchronous learning lets learners train at their own pace and time, there is value to balancing it with some synchronous learning time, where they interact face-to-face with co-workers virtually or in person. A new blended learning approach gives employees the opportunity to engage in synchronous and asynchronous learning to maximize the benefits from both.