Faculty Sound Off on Synchronous Vs. Asynchronous Classes

Since the start of COVID-19 and the alternative delivery methods of teaching that followed, students of all grade levels have vocalized their thoughts about each one.  

Now, two renowned professors at Minnesota State University, Mankato have been given the mic to discuss the topic. 

Pete Stevens, a professor in the Department of English, has had the opportunity to teach both synchronous (in person) and asynchronous (online) classes. Although Stevens has only held his first-ever asynchronous class over the summer, he still has much to say regarding both styles of teaching. 

“I prefer teaching a synchronous class over an asynchronous class,” says Stevens.  

Stevens said he understands students learn best when school coincides with their life outside of a classroom. If a student is particularly busy outside of school, they might prefer asynchronous classes due to the flexibility they offer.  

“From a teacher’s perspective,” he says, “I believe that synchronous classes are more effective.”  

Stevens backed his claim by saying, “with an asynchronous class, it is difficult to see where a student is in terms of progress within the course and with the material that is being taught.” 

He also argues that, with the lack of face-to-face interactions, a strong disconnect is created not only between the professor and the student, but between the other students as well.  

“We sometimes forget how valuable that experience can be for a student,” Stevens says. “There’s a personal touch with synchronous classes that is difficult to achieve with an asynchronous one.” 

Michael Torres, an assistant professor in the English Department, agrees with Stevens.  

“I’m preferring synchronous so far,” says Torres, “I think it has to do with the fact that, as a creative writing professor, building class community and trust is best done when I’m able to meet with all, or at least half of the class, at once, in real time.” 

His experience with teaching synchronous classes is vast in comparison to the alternative. However, he is currently teaching an asynchronous class this semester.  

“There are weekly assignments and discussion boards,” Torres says about his asynchronous class. “I’ve also made Loom videos for them to watch and react to but it’s not the same.” 

Torres also says that asynchronous classes miss out on the unexpected conversations that arise in a classroom setting—whether virtually or in person—that often lead to a better understanding of the material. 

Despite his preference, Torres remains positive.  

“I’m taking this semester as a learning opportunity to better serve those asynchronous classes in the future.” 

Header photo: A student takes notes during an online class in the Centennial Student Union, Monday, Oct. 12, 2020 in Mankato. (Dearest Welwolie/The Reporter)

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