cover story WPC
The right tools at the right time
ASU integrates approaches to virtual learning

s students across the country left classrooms and opened laptops last spring, there were not a lot of clear answers about what this new remote format meant for learning, coursework, and students and faculty expectations. Now, with a little more time to plan and a lot of endurance, ASU has delineated between two main formats for learning, full immersion synchronous and digital immersion, to meet diverse student demands. While the two have some things in common, each modality fills a different, specific need.

Full immersion synchronous learning, also called ASU Sync, means students can attend physically in classrooms on campus (abiding by CDC guidelines), while other students join that same class remotely. Or, if self-quarantine is necessary, all students will attend remotely. In this format, students are still able to interact with each other and faculty. There is more structure, because a full immersion synchronous class is held at specific times, and live video and chat mean students can ask questions in real time.

While full immersion synchronous learning became a necessity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, ASU President Michael Crow acknowledges its importance in several other areas including student retention. “It used to be that if you got sick for, say, five weeks in the fall semester of your sophomore [second] year in an American college, you have a 90% chance of dropping out and never going back,” he says. “Full immersion synchronous learning allows a student who is ill or has a family emergency to stay connected from afar.”

Digital immersion classes, on the other hand, are held asynchronously, where courses are designed for a limited attention span and mix different models of learning. Classmates typically communicate via discussion boards or small group meetings. This is the most flexible option, which is ideal for students who might work full time or have family obligations.

W. P. Carey has long been a leader in online business education, with its Online MBA program ranked top 10 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report since the inception of the publication’s online U.S. News rankings.

Two virtual educational approaches:
Full immersion synchronous
Synchronous — Classes are held in classrooms on campus for some students while others attend remotely with a live instructor
Live interaction with faculty and classmates
Highly structured
Taught by world-class W. P. Carey faculty
Highly ranked programs at the most innovative university in the country
Digital immersion
Asynchronous — Classes are set up so students can complete on their own time
Interaction takes place mostly over online discussion boards
More flexible
Taught by world-class W. P. Carey faculty
Highly ranked programs at the most innovative university in the country
Image of Badge