T&D: Synchronous vs Asynchronous

And Blending the Two

There are many things – learning-wise – that can be done and should be done in an Asynchronous mode. I mean, why make people wait on others?

In 1981 Bill Wiggenhorn challenged his staff of 13 Training Project Supervisors – including me – at MTEC – Motorola’s Training & Education Center – to move everything they could from Classroom Training (ILT – Instructor Led Training) to Self Paced Training.

I embraced THAT NOTION and immediately began creating a flexible T&D Path for Manufacturing Supervisors where most of the content/events/programs/etc. would be Self-Paced. We’d get them together for Practice with Feedback when needed. We’d bring it to them – at their facility – if that was best.

After leaving MTEC and joining a small consulting firm I developed ISD methods that would enable one to decide after the Analysis efforts and during the Design efforts – what Modes and Media would be best – and would facilitate a Design Team of Master Performers – who understood the nuances of their Real World better than any ISDer would ever know – to make those decisions.


Not that Master Performers would always make the absolute RIGHT decision every time – but who else would you ask?

Who else would have a clue?

And if the Content needed Practice with Feedback to actually develop at least a budding Skill/Capability – then we might design the content to deliver the INFOs and DEMOs “Asynchronously” and then have people come together for a “Synchronous” go at Practice, Practice Practice.

I usually said Practice 3 times as I would then introduce to my Design Team the notion of Applications Exercises in 3 tiers:

  • Easy
  • Difficult
  • From Hades


Then they could decide if 3 exercises – or more – or less – were needed – given the incoming education and experiences of the Target Audiences.

In most cases the Design Team knew the incoming K/S levels of the Target Audience – as they worked with them. And given that insight plus their insight as to how easy or tough the Real World performance was – they were the best people to make those decisions.

Decisions that most people’s ADDIE-like approach reserves for the ISDer.


As many times, where I might design an Exercise, they would insist that it’s not necessary.


Who do you think would be right – most of the time?

Scheduling time for Training is problematic enough for one person – let alone a whole class. You can sort of Flip That Paradigm and have the learners/Performers do their homework in an asynchronous mode to get the INFOs and see the DEMOs – and come together in a group or work with a coach – to do the APPOs (Application Exercises).


The Design Team knows whether or not there are enough Coachable Coaches in their Real World to go that route – or wether or not the Classroom/ILT mode is best.

Master Performers – especially in a group setting – are the most real and authentic authorities for making such Design decisions. IME.

In My Experience – and I’ve been working with groups on ISD efforts since 1979.

It’s not easier for sure – but it is worth the pain, for sure.

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