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1.4 Interacting with learners

One of the most noticeable differences between synchronous and asynchronous learning is the nature of the interactions between learners and educators. These include providing feedback, answering questions, or guiding learners through a particular activity.

In a synchronous learning environment, educators can deliver feedback immediately, whenever it is required. However, while the face-to-face environment allows for visual cues when delivering feedback, these are not always possible – or may take different forms – in the online environment. With online education, it is important to build in opportunities for feedback, both from educator to learner and from learner to educator, to make up for the loss of the face-to-face cues.

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Figure 2 Giving and receiving feedback can be achieved both synchronously and asynchronously.

In an asynchronous setting, feedback will be given some time after a learner has asked a question, unless it is provided automatically. Sometimes several iterations of a conversation are needed to help learners with an issue, which takes time. This is a reason why peer feedback is often used in these settings, as it gives learners opportunities to reinforce their learning by helping each other without having to wait for input from an educator (Gikandi & Morrow, 2016).