Synchronous Learning Experiences: Distance and Residential Learners’ Perspectives in a Blended Graduate Course

Yun Jeong Park
Curtis J. Bonk
Indiana University


Synchronous communication has a great potential to increase individual participation and group collaboration. Despite increasing use, scant research has been conducted on variables impacting successful synchronous learning. This study focuses on learner experiences in a real-time communication mediated by the Breeze web-based collaboration system. It also combined conference mediums. Eight students, 4 residential and 4 learning at a distance, were interviewed to examine the perceived benefits and challenges of synchronous interaction. Study findings showed that learners valued spontaneous feedback, meaningful interactions, multiple perspectives, and instructors’ supports. On the other hand, time constraints, lack of reflection, language barriers, tool-related problems, and peers’ network connection problems were viewed as challenges. Due to pervasive time pressures, the synchronous interactions mainly focused on task-related issues. Nevertheless, students felt a need for connecting to others in the course and a sense of social presence. Interestingly, no differences were found between the distance and residential students in terms of learning strategies for synchronous discussions.

About the Author(s)...

Yun Jeong Park received a Ph.D. from the Instructional Systems Technology at Indiana University. Her research interests include online pedagogy, technology integration, and instructional design theory.  Currently she is involved in research projects regarding the instructional use of synchronous technology and the Omnium Project. She may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Curt Bonk is Professor of Instructional Systems Technology at Indiana University and adjunct in the School of Informatics. Dr. Bonk is also a Senior Research Fellow with the DOD's Advanced Distributed Learning Lab. He has received the CyberStar Award from the Indiana Information Technology Association, Most Outstanding Achievement Award from the U.S. Distance Learning Association, and Most Innovative Teaching in a Distance Education Program from the State of Indiana. He may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Go to top