Synchronous Teaching

Synchronous e-learning, commonly supported by media such as videoconferencing and chat, has the potential to support [remote] learners in the development of learning communities. Learners and teachers experience synchronous e-learning as more social and avoid frustration by asking and answering questions in real time. Synchronous sessions help [remote] learners feel like participants rather than isolates.” (Hrastinski, 2008).

Check out this Smeal Academy Session about Student Engagement for Remote Instruction (Part 1) for some synchronous strategies to increase student engagement.

When Should I Deliver Instruction Synchronously?

Synchronous instruction is best used when you want or need to have real-time interactions with students. It also works well for flipped classroom activities where students watch lectures, complete readings and come to live sessions to ask questions or receive support completing their coursework. It also can be used for individual or group presentations (although these can also be delivered asynchronously).


  • Synchronous teaching is most similar to residential instruction.
  • Students may feel more connected to the instructor and peers because they can interact in real-time.


  • Not all students may have access to high-speed internet or equipment necessary for live sessions (cameras, microphones, speakers).
  • If you have a large class, you will need to decide whether a Zoom webinar or meeting will best suit your needs. Review this site to compare Zoom meetings and webinars.
  • Students may be geographically dispersed in multiple time zones and may find it difficult to meet during your scheduled class time.
  • Students’ schedules may be disrupted which will make it difficult to participate during scheduled meeting times.


  • Create Canvas events to remind students of synchronous class sessions.
  • Consider providing recordings of live sessions for students who can’t participate during scheduled class times.
  • Plan synchronous meetings with student groups for project updates.
  • Add your recurring Zoom meeting link to your Canvas course navigation.
  • Consider inviting guest speakers to your live sessions to give real-world perspectives about course concepts.
  • Be sure to include a “netiquette” statement in your syllabus so students are clear about your expectations for asynchronous discussion and engagement.

Key Synchronous Instruction Tools

  • Zoom
  • Canvas chat

Learn More: Tools and Resources

Work Cited

Hrastinski, S. (2008, November 17). Asynchronous and Synchronous E-Learning.