Synchronous interactions require students to join and participate in class activities “in real time,” all at the same time, just as if they were sitting in your classroom. An example of synchronous online learning is a live Zoom session where students and faculty are logging into a Zoom room at the same time for a discussion.

DLINQ has been recommending that faculty consider limiting the number of synchronous interactions they require for students for the following reasons:

  1. Time zones: As students disperse all over the world, synchronous activities could require some students to join a live session in the middle of the night. This is not an optimal learning experience for those students.
  2. Internet access: Synchronous interactions can tax internet connections. If you or your students do not have good internet access, you/they may struggle to access live sessions and/or they may experience major problems during a live session (e.g., audio cutting out; pixelated video; computer shutting down)
  3. ADA or accessibility: Synchronous interactions can surface or exacerbate learning challenges for students, such as hearing difficulties or attentional challenges.
  4. Demands on students where they are: We know that some students will have new demands placed on them when they return home or to their new location. For example, some students may be expected to get a job when they return, or they may have to move from location to location until they find a more permanent landing spot. Synchronous sessions can place additional stressors to students facing additional demands away from the campus.

Digital tools that work well for synchronous online learning activities and that are supported by Middlebury ITS are linked below.


Google Apps for EDU

Middlebury Google Apps is a suite of web-based Google services such as Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more. All Middlebury faculty, staff and students have access to Google [...]


Microsoft Teams

With Microsoft Teams, you can chat via video, audio, or text, share files, and much more.



Slack is a free messaging app that offers a space for text and audio chat, as well as sharing tools and files. Users can create different channels focused [...]



Zoom is Middlebury’s videoconferencing tool. It allows you to schedule and record online meetings or invite remote guest speakers to your class or event. [...]