The value of asynchronous learning for busy professionals

View all blog posts under Articles | View all blog posts under Online Master of Science in Management Information Systems

Earning a Master of Science in Management Information Systems can be a great way for professionals to propel their careers forward. However, balancing work with education can be tricky.

Online master’s degree programs such as those offered through the University of Alabama at Birmingham can make it easier for busy professionals to manage work-related and education goals. However, not all online programs are the same. One key factor students should look for and take into consideration is whether a degree is asynchronous vs. synchronous.

The difference between these two types of tracks comes down to timing. Synchronous programs require students to log into an online portal at certain times, participate in live discussions, and complete assignments, quizzes, and exams within strict time limits.

Asynchronous programming is much more flexible. Lectures are often recorded so students can watch them at any time. There typically aren’t live discussions students are mandated to be active in; rather, discussions are often carried out in forums, allowing participants to check back in according to their own schedules.

Because of the flexibility of asynchronous schedules, they are often favored by people with outside obligations, like full-time jobs or busy families. Here are some of the ways asynchronous online degree programs, such as the master’s in management information systems offered through the Collat School of Business, can benefit busy professionals balancing school with work:

woman with glasses working on laptop at coffee shop with latte.

Study according to your schedule

No matter your work hours, an asynchronous schedule can accommodate them. Since students aren’t expected to be actively involved at specific hours and days, they can access course material when they have time. Watch a lecture on your lunch break, complete assignments before or after work, or complete class activities on the weekends — it doesn’t matter when or where, just as long as students complete the necessary tasks.

Though there aren’t requirements as to when students need to access lectures and assignments, there will likely be general deadlines for these activities. However, they are typically designed to allow enough room for students to determine when they can dedicate the necessary time and attention to them.

Learn at your own pace

With less strict requirements pertaining to when students watch lectures, complete homework assignments or take exams, people enrolled in asynchronous degree programs have the ability to set their own learning speed.

Understanding your own learning style and pace is important to succeeding in any curriculum. By being able to recognize when you’ve fully grasped a concept and can move on to the next lesson, or when you need to spend more time focusing or absorbing the information, you can take control of your education and ensure you’re moving forward appropriately.

With this type of model, self-paced learning also means choosing when you’ll take exams. Though there are usually deadlines for when you need to have the exam scheduled and completed, there’s typically enough time for most students to be able to prepare as needed prior to the test.

Review materials at any time

Because synchronous learning models rely on scheduled lectures and activities, not all course-related materials may be available indefinitely. For example, unless a lecture is recorded, there’s only a one-time chance to hear it. And, because classroom discussions may happen live, hearing an important answer to a classmate’s question may also be a fleeting opportunity.

This isn’t the case with an asynchronous programming model. Lectures are recorded and available online at all times. Discussions between classmates may happen on forums, chat rooms, or in collaborative documents, meaning questions and responses are accessible after these interactions happen.

The fact that course materials are always available also makes preparing for quizzes and exams easier. Get prepared for a test by reviewing important lectures or reading through classroom discussions.

Collaborate with classmates when it’s convenient for everyone

While you’re making time to review lessons and complete assignments when it works with your schedule, your classmates are likely doing the same.

However, there could be a point in the curriculum when you’ll need to team up with some of your peers to work on a group project. When this happens, you’ll need to collaborate with others at a time that works for everyone. While this may be a challenge given everyone’s different schedules and obligations, an asynchronous learning model gives students ample opportunity to collaborate when it’s convenient for everyone involved.

Whether you’re in the same locale as your classmates or many miles away, meeting online using video conferencing software, chat rooms, and collaborative documents is possible.

University of Alabama at Birmingham’s online MS MIS degree curriculum

The University of Alabama at Birmingham understands the need for MIS experts in industry today. Because of that, we strive to provide a valuable program that’s geared toward driven professionals.

We do this through a carefully created curriculum, which incorporates feedback from an IS advisory council made of IT professionals who make sure lessons focus on need-to-know concepts relevant to today’s job market. Additionally, our networking opportunities with IT professionals give students the ability to connect with peers and experts in the field.

The asynchronous organization of the MS MIS curriculum is another way the University of Alabama at Birmingham works to ensure this master’s degree program is uniquely tailored to the needs of a busy professional balancing school and work. To learn more about the benefits of the MS MIS program at the Collat School of Business, connect with an enrollment advisor today.

Recommended Readings:

Curriculum overview: Online MS MIS at UAB

How a Master of Science in Management Information Systems can impress employers


University of Alabama at Birmingham MS MIS degree program

Collat School of Business