There are two types of learning in e-learning. The first is asynchronous learning, and this is where a student interacts with material independently, and is not online at the same time as the teacher. An example would be reading and commenting on discussion postings, or corresponding via e-mail.

Synchronous learning is when learning is happening in real time. Students are logged on an engaged with other students or the teacher via Google Hangouts or collaborating simultaneously in Google Docs.

Both of these formats will ultimately occur in an online course, because in order for students to learn synchronously, they have to be logged in and engaged at the same time as the teacher and other students–and this is not always possible. However, there is evidence that synchronous learning is the most effective and meaningful. Here are some further examples:

My questions for you are:

How can we ensure this type of learning occurs when students are logging in at different times of day?
How can we make collaboration run smoothy?
What synchronous tools do you use in your e-learning classroom?