Asynchronous Learning is More Inclusive
Maha Bala and Brad Meier take on the default assumption that synchronous modes are best for online learning. They make the argument that when expanded to a worldwide audience, enforcing synchronicity is incredibly biased: against certain time zones, against people with families who want to choose their own time, and against people who do not have the hardware or bandwidth for streaming audio-visuals. Asynchronous modes not only even out that bias but also promote deeper reflection.
[one of the authors] has had experiences facilitating web-based video dialogue, and even though she sees it could have enormous potential when it works well, very often it does not. When we learn online, we are not together in one room, and we need to recognize not only the limitations of that, but the openness of its possibilities.
The strengths of online learning, especially in massive courses such as MOOCs, and especially for adult learners, might lie in their asynchronous interactive components.