There is something that bothers us about conversations about replacing face-to-face teaching with online learning: they often fall into a trap of assuming that incorporating synchronous interaction is the optimal way to make learning more personable, that it approximates the face-to-face setting closest, and is therefore preferable and better. More often than not, synchronous interaction here implies some form of two-way audiovisual interaction, even though there are text-only forms of synchronous interaction (e.g., Twitter live chat). There are also asynchronous forms of audiovisual interaction (e.g., voicemail, recorded lectures).
But we feel the enthusiasm for audiovisual synchronicity often comes without sufficient discernment, and without deliberative consideration of how asynchronous learning can be not only viable but productive.
Maha Bali and Brad Meier dive into the world of online learning, comparing synchronous and asynchronous learning. The two authors suggest that that asynchronous learning is the only way to properly include all learners. It also promotes deeper learning. The piece ends with a series of useful pedagogical, logistical and ethics questions to consider when making decisions about synchronicity.