Student Perceptions of Synchronous Online Learning

Aileen LAM Wanli
Centre for English Language Communication (CELC)

Aileen discusses findings from a study she conducted to find out how students perceived synchronous online learning, specifically through video conferencing tools. Aileen presented her study as a PechaKucha during the online Higher Education Campus Conference (e-HECC) 2020.

In this presentation, Aileen shares findings from a study she conducted to find out how NUS students perceived synchronous online learning, specifically through video conferencing tools. It draws on Moore’s theory of transactional distance (1993)—dialogue/ interaction (i.e. learner-content, learner-tutor, learner-learner, learner-interface), structure and learner autonomy—to understand and explain student perceptions of synchronous online learning. The survey was conducted in early March 2020, at the beginning of the worsening COVID-19 situation in Singapore, when tutors were still given an option to conduct either face-to-face or online lessons. This survey focused on four main areas:

  1. Student preference for online or face-to-face lessons in light of the COVID-19 situation.
  2. Their perceived comfort levels of synchronous and asynchronous learning.
  3. Their views on the achievement of learning outcomes in synchronous online learning.
  4. The benefits and potential issues with synchronous online lessons.

In the rest of this PechaKucha, Aileen reflects on the findings of the perception study, in particular, its implications on the approaches educators may adopt during their synchronous online lessons to ensure that active learning and discussions take place.

Aileen LAM Wanli is from the Centre for English Language Communication (CELC) in NUS and has more than ten years of teaching and corporate training experience in communications and media. She is passionate about the use of technology in education, and has developed online and blended courses in NUS as well as an edX MOOC titled “Intercultural communication at work – land the job and do it well”.

Aileen can be reached at


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