Preparing for Synchronous Sessions

What is synchronous online facilitation?

Many people new to online learning have not yet heard the terms synchronous and asynchronous. Quite simply put, synchronous means "at the same time", whereas asynchronous means "not at the same time". You may already be familiar with examples of asynchronous online activities, that often take place in learning management systems such as this one, like discussion forums, polls and feedback surveys. Learners participate in these activities at times of their own choosing.

Alternatively, synchronous online describes when people gather together in a web-based space at the same time. Such gatherings often have a facilitator who is responsible for guiding the group's process during their meeting.

We should note that there are other ways to gather and facilitate synchronously online, such as in chat rooms, using instant messaging and even via video conferencing. Collaborative online documents such as wikis could also be used synchronously. However, for the purposes of this course, when we talk about "synchronous online" facilitation we are referring to facilitating in web conferencing environments, such as those provided by tools like Blackboard Collaborate or Adobe Connect. These tools allow us to gather in virtual rooms and give us the ability to see and hear each other in real time.