Asynchronous Instruction

Contact time with students can be achieved through asynchronous instruction. Discussion boards, videos, recorded lectures, quizzes, readings, and assignments all constitute instruction time. Asynchronous teaching allows faculty to prepare course materials ahead of time and make them available for students to access on their own time. Instructors may still designate a particular time window during which students are expected to access, review, and engage with particular asynchronous material.


  • Asynchronous teaching allows faculty to prepare and deliver material in a more controlled environment (for example: recording, re-recording, or editing lectures), while not simultaneously monitoring questions from students.
  • Asynchronous content allows students greater temporal flexibility to access content and to pause and revisit content as often as needed, possibly increasing engagement with and retention of the material.


  • Students may feel less engaged by asynchronous content, and thus have lower levels of comprehension.
    Best Practice Solutions
    Asynchronous lectures should always be broken up into smaller 5-10 minute recordings to increase engagement and to decrease the risk of technical difficulty in recording. Instructors should build engagement mechanisms into asynchronous teaching. For example, some instructors require students to comment at particular points in their lectures (using the Canvas Studio tool or VoiceThread) or even to create their own slides (using VoiceThread) or videos (using Canvas Studio).
  • Asynchronous delivery of content increases the possibility that the material may be misunderstood by students.
    Best Practice Solutions
    Instructors may include comprehension quizzes, self-assessments, or responses as components of asynchronous assignments. Students may engage with asynchronous material via the Discussions tool within Canvas. Many instructors hold synchronous sessions to review material which students initially encountered asynchronously.

When to Consider Asynchronous Instruction

Recording Lectures for Student Viewing
Instructors, especially those teaching large lecture-based classes, may choose to record and post lectures for students to view, rather than delivering the lectures synchronously. Canvas Studio, VoiceThread, and even Zoom may be used to capture these recordings, which may be shared easily via Canvas using any of these three tools.
Leading Asynchronous Discussions Online
Instructors may engage students in online asynchronous discussions using the Discussions feature within Canvas or through threaded discussions within Canvas Studio or VoiceThread. Faculty may develop specific assignments and grading rubrics around asynchronous discussion assignments.
Providing Additional Course Content Asynchronously
Instructors may also rely on additional readings, videos, and activities to replace activities that would normally occur during course meetings. Videos may be uploaded via Canvas Studio, and readings may be shared through Canvas. ScholarBlogs, VoiceThread, and Canvas Studio may be used to encourage creative asynchronous engagement with course material.