Synchronous & Asynchronous Communication Resources

Distance education courses face a special challenge in building a student-centered community of learners. For this reason, instructors teaching courses that are classified as online, hybrid, or web-enhanced need to consider how they will use synchronous and asynchronous communication tools in order to create opportunities for collaboration amongst students and between the students and instructor. Here are a few ideas for how you might start:

Asynchronous Communication

Discussion Boards
  • Instructor facilitates discussions with the whole class or in small groups.

  • Instructor reads all posts and responds to a selection of them.

  • Typically, the instructor provides a starting question and students reply to each other to formulate an answer.


  • Blogs provide students with a space to write compositions that can be viewed by both the instructor and other students.

  • Students and instructors can then comment on each others' blog posts.

  • Instructors can use blogs to have students formulate and discuss their understanding of important course concepts.

  • Journals provide students with a space to write compositions that can only be viewed by the instructor.

  • Journals can be useful if the instructors wants students to regularly reflect on course topics.

  • Journals combined with Discussion Boards can allow instructors to simulate Think-Pair-Share activities in an online environment.


  • Wikis are a collaborative tool that allow multiple students to work in the same online space.

  • Wikis can be used to have students complete group projects, such as building a website, creating a bibliography, or developing a glossary of important terms.

Synchronous Communication

Adobe Connect
Adobe Connect offers virtual classroom space, office hours, and meetings. The events can be easily recorded and made available to those who could not attend the event. Adobe Connect supports screen sharing and multiple whiteboard pages.

For on-demand tutorials and tip sheets, please visit the Adobe Connect Training Page. For individual or group training, contact your campus Educational Technologist.
Free Conference Call
This service by Free Conferencing Corp. is at the bare-bones end of the free conference calling scale. Conference organizers need merely register with a name and email address. Upon doing so, they immediately receive a dial-in number, along with access codes for hosts and participants. No reservations are necessary; all that organizers need to do is notify people to call in at the right time.
Google+ Hangouts
Google+ (Hangouts)
Google+ Hangouts let you video chat with up to 9 people, face-to-face-to-face. You can watch YouTube videos, wear pirate hats, or even doodle together.

Twiddla is a no-setup, web-based meeting playground. Mark up websites, graphics and photos, or start brainstorming on a blank canvas. Browse the web with your friends or make that converence call more producive than ever. No plug-ins, downloads, or firewall voodo - it's all here, ready to go when you are. Browser-agnostic, user-friendly.

For even more resources and information about synchronous communication in online learning environments, click here.