Remote Instruction via Asynchronous and Synchronous Technologies

In the absence of traditional face-to-face instruction, instructors can use Information and Communications Technology (ICT), such as web conferencing, chat, discussion forums, and learning management systems, to teach remotely. ICT allows for dynamic instruction and collaboration. You may be asked to come to class through ICT at a specific time for a synchronous session or you can use the technologies for asynchronous instruction.

Synchronous Instruction

  • takes place in real time; learners and instructors being physically separated
  • real-time discussion and collaboration in scheduled live classes
  • immediate feedback
  • facilitator able to quickly determine learning of concepts

Asynchronous Instruction

  • takes place anytime and anywhere; providing more flexibility to attend to course material
  • time to research concepts and answers; express self uninterrupted
  • delayed feedback
  • self-pacing requires self-motivated learners

CITL has created a few quick tip resources relating to remote instruction, things to think about before a synchronous session, and tips for an asynchronous session. You can also find an infographic on teaching remotely.

Choosing Suitable Technology

With so much choice of technologies and applications, it may be somewhat daunting to determine which is most suitable for a given instructional event. Instructional design practice suggests choosing the technology, and specific application, based on the need implied by the learning outcome.

The table below outlines some possible technologies that may be used for dissemination of information knowledge, communication, collaboration, and assessment activities in technology enabled instruction, such as remote instruction. Many of the tools we use in our day-to-day work may be used in remote instruction, such as email, web conferencing, chat applications, and discussion forums, to name a few. More recent technologies would include cloud computing and dropboxes for information knowledge; instant messaging, blogs, and microblogs for communication; wikis, blogs, microblogs, and social networking sites for collaboration; and web conferencing, online quizzes, dropboxes, and web conferencing for assessment. Some technologies may be used for multiple instructional purposes.

Temporality of Synchronous vs Asynchronous Tools
TemporalityInformation knowledge toolsCommunication toolsCollaboration toolsAssessment tools
Synchronouscontent pages in LMS; web conferencing; polling (clickers); whiteboard (interactive); web-based word processingchat (instant messaging); web conferencing; whiteboard (interactive)chat; web conferencing; whiteboard (interactive); web-based word processingchat; web conferencing; whiteboard (interactive); web-based word processing
Asynchronouscontent pages in LMS; email; dropboxes; blogs, microblogs, wikis, social networkingbulletin boards; blogs, microblogs, wikis, social networking; discussion forums; emailweb-based word processing; email; blogs, microblogs, wikis, social networkingpeer review; online quizzes; video assignment; dropboxes; email; discussion forums; blogs, microblogs, wikis, social networking


Resource created by Jane C.