Find guidance on asynchronous teaching and ideas to include in your teaching.

What is asynchronous teaching?

Asynchronous teaching is student-paced and does not take place in real-time. Students can engage with the learning content in their own time. However, it is wise to provide indicative timescales for engagement with the material or tasks to ensure that the students are progressing through the module. Asynchronous teaching methods can be used independently or as an addition to synchronous teaching methods.

For maintaining student engagement with asynchronous materials, consider linking them with synchronous sessions, where students can discuss the asynchronous materials or work collaboratively on subjects related to the pre-recorded/pre-uploaded materials. Below are some examples.

Pre-recorded content

Pre-recorded content can be provided in the form of videos or podcasts and can be used for various purposes.

Pre-recorded content can also embed interactivity by either directly adding quizzes in the recording (Panopto) or by simply asking students to pause and answer a question before you reveal the answer in the video / podcast.

Some examples of the use of pre-recorded content include:

  • introducing new concepts
  • providing explanations to complex concepts
  • offering step-by-step guidance for problem solving or specific tasks
  • detailed guidance on assessment
  • detailed explanation on marking criteria, including examples of poor and good work.

Online interactive tools

Online interactive tools can be used to offer opportunities for formative assessments for students. Online Canvas quizzes could be added to allow students to self-evaluate their knowledge on a subject at regular intervals (such as, per topic). Such interactive tools are a great opportunity to offer directed feedback to students when they give the wrong answer. Feedback to wrong answers can be designed in such a way as to direct students to specific learning content for revision and further clarification.

Online collaborative learning

Online collaborative tools can be used for enhancing students’ sense of being part of a learning community as well as to allow students to work together and prepare group assessments. Most online collaborative tools can be used both synchronously or asynchronously.

For example, students could be asked to collect relevant literature for a topic. Collaboratively, students can add information on a Google Doc or using Microsoft Office 365 Word documents, and

comment on each other’s input. Teaching staff can also add guidance and comments on such collaborative documents.

Other tools for collaboration and for creating learning communities online include Discussions on Canvas which can be used for various purposes. Some examples include the following.


The lecturer can initiate a discussion for two opposing positions in a debate. Students can then be directed to justify one position, while responding to posts of students that have assumed the opposing position.

Article/video/image analysis

A lecturer can post an item that offers further insight to a set topic. Students can then be asked to comment on the item, for instance on how it might have changed their perspective on the topic.

Follow-up discussion from a live session

Following a live session, the lecturer can initiate a feedback discussion by asking students to address what was more helpful in the session and what areas they may need further explanation and guidance on.

Resource sharing

By selecting a certain topic, the lecturer can ask students to post relevant resources that they have found useful and comment on the resources posted from other students.

Things to consider when designing asynchronous teaching material

When designing asynchronous teaching material there are some things to consider.

Inclusion and accessibility

When selecting the tools to use for asynchronous teaching, consider whether site-access limitations may arise for students at worldwide locations. When producing pre-recorded material, consider the addition of closed captions.

Students’ time availability

When students are required to engage with learning material online, consider offering guidance on time expectations to direct student engagement with the available material.

Top tips

When designing your teaching material:

  • make sure that the asynchronous materials are clearly linked with learning objectives
  • indicate when the students need to engage with specific materials if linked with synchronous sessions and provide indicative guidance on the time required for engagement with the asynchronous material
  • let students know whether engagement with online material is required or optional
  • check the accessibility of the asynchronous material and offer alternative formats if required
  • identified a way to check students’ engagement with the asynchronous material and provide general feedback during a teaching session where appropriate.

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