Asynchronous vs. Live Online Teaching: Understanding the Pros and Cons


The comparison of asynchronous and live (synchronous) online teaching highlights key benefits and drawbacks that suit different learning preferences and logistical needs.

Asynchronous Teaching: Pros and Cons


  1. Flexibility in scheduling
  2. Self-paced learning
  3. Access to a broad range of resources


  1. Limited real-time interaction
  2. Requires significant self-discipline
  3. Delayed feedback, though mitigatable via Q&A sessions

Live Teaching Online: Pros and Cons


  1. Immediate interaction and feedback
  2. Structured learning schedule
  3. Enhanced engagement and motivation


  1. Reduced flexibility in scheduling
  2. Potential technical and connectivity issues
  3. Limited access to past session materials

CodeRefinery Q&A Sessions

Utilize pre-recorded lectures for content delivery, supplemented by regular, shorter live Q&A sessions for interactive engagement and query resolution.

Preparation for Live Sessions

Efficiency in Q&A sessions is improved by having students submit questions in advance, allowing instructors to concentrate on prevalent issues and intricate questions.

Summaries from discussion

The discussion delved into various strategies to enhance student engagement in asynchronous learning environments, emphasizing the importance of certificates coupled with challenging exercises. The exercises should be designed to be sufficiently difficult to maintain engagement, and personalized projects can further enhance involvement. Additionally, the possibility of automating exercise evaluation and certificate issuance was explored, with considerations on how this could be implemented efficiently across platforms. Other engagement tactics included incorporating polls, Kahoot-like feedback, utilizing chat platforms like Zulip for topic-wise discussions, and potentially establishing a public, moderated forum like CodeRefinery for peer-reviewed evaluations.

Addressing technical and connectivity issues in live online teaching was another focal point. Strategies discussed included integrating tech checks into registration processes in a gamified manner, recording lectures for later viewing to accommodate technical difficulties, and providing support from helpers in breakout rooms during live sessions. The integration of asynchronous and live teaching methods was also considered, acknowledging that while some students require direct instruction, others may thrive in self-directed environments. The suggestion to guide students to platforms like Zulip for questions and incorporating alternative session formats during sign-up highlighted a flexible approach to accommodate diverse learning preferences. Additionally, the discussion emphasized the importance of facilitating interactive and responsive learning experiences in both asynchronous and live settings, recognizing the challenges of maintaining momentum and support for learners with limited continuous study time.


In addition to discussing engagement strategies and technical considerations, various platforms were mentioned as potential tools which provide a proof of concept for asychronous learning. These included well-known platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and edX, which offer a wide range of courses and educational resources. Additionally, the discussion touched upon MOOC platforms like and Moodle, with the recognition that many universities have their own Moodle instances for course management. The conversation also briefly explored specialized platforms such as LeetCode for coding practice, as well as the possibility of building custom platforms like IQMAcademy.

Notes on platforms

If we opt to create our own platform, it's advisable to keep it lightweight, considering options like hosting videos on YouTube or utilizing tools like HedgeDoc for documentation. Utilizing Moodle might be too heavyweight for our needs. The decision to develop our own platform would primarily hinge on the necessity for automated exercises and certifications. However, existing platforms offer the advantage of providing tools to structure learning paths, though developing a course on such platforms requires substantial upfront effort. Nonetheless, prioritizing modularity and content reusability could lead to universities integrating our materials into their courses, thereby handling their own exercises and certifications.


This is an ongoing question with regards to what is the best way for students to learn and instructors to teach. Given that CodeRefinery is spread across the whole world, the online space has many possibilities, so it's not an easy decision because there are pros and cons to both options. With the above-mentioned information, we have more insights into those pros and cons which can be taken into future discussions on the topic.


CodeRefinery is a project within the Nordic e-Infrastructure Collaboration (NeIC). NeIC is an organisational unit under NordForsk.


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