Get Back in Sync with Asynchronous Classes

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Asynchronous classes. A buzzword for the Fall 2020 semester and a new era of remote learning experiences. Translation: You never have to show up for in-person classes or live zoom lectures. School time on your schedule. Whenever and wherever you want. More time for other classes, activities and hobbies. Now, many are wondering why school systems haven’t implemented this before.

Although there are clear benefits and flexibility with these classes, managing multiple asynchronous courses at one time can be a challenge while juggling other in-person classes and live lectures.

Here are VALLEY’s go-to tips to stay on top of your asynchronous classes this semester.  

Organization is Key

When it comes to managing asynchronous online classes—organization is key—especially if you have more than one in your class schedule. Without regular in-person contact with professors and their reminders, it can be easy for important deadlines to slip under your radar. To make sure you’re staying on track and submitting assignments on time, VALLEY recommends making a ‘Master Deadline List’ in an online document solely for your asynchronous courses.

Take a few minutes to read through each syllabus for your asynchronous classes and make note of key dates including deadlines for projects, exams, papers, learning objectives, Canvas discussions etc. This way you have all of your important due dates for these classes in one place. Plus, you won’t have to go searching through multiple course schedules and learning objectives to see what you need to be doing each week — saving time in the long run. Put in some time now to get organized, and your future self will thank you.

Once you’ve completed your list of key dates, print out your document and display it for the world to see. Put it in the front of your agenda, clip it to a whiteboard or paste it up on the wall with a piece of tape: wherever you need to put it so that your due dates are in sight.   

Hold Yourself Accountable

Let’s not hide the facts. Procrastination is a very real thing. With so much flexibility offered with asynchronous classes, it can be easy to prioritize other in-person courses and consequently push these classes to the academic back burner.

To avoid this and hold yourself accountable this semester, VALLEY recommends scheduling specific times each week to work on your asynchronous classes.

For example, if you are taking a three-credit course, try scheduling a 50-minute period every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for “class time.” Put the times in a Google calendar or iPhone calendar and set alerts too. This way, you can treat your asynchronous classes like actual in-person lectures. Schedule your times and head to class folks!

Separate “Class Time” and “Homework-Study Time”

With online asynchronous classes, students can lose the benefit of actually “going” to class and “finishing” class for the day. Lecture, homework and study time can seem like one big blur together, making it difficult to determine when you’ve actually finished all your lectures for the day. To make asynchronous classes mimic an in-person class schedule, VALLEY recommends scheduling your “class” time close to your other course meeting times. Whether that is early in the morning or later in the afternoon is up to you and your current schedule.

Once you’ve “attended” all of your classes for the day, VALLEY also encourages you to take a break between class time and homework time. If you find most of your classes are online, go for a walk! A huge part of the “going to class feeling” is walking, and unfortunately, that can be lost with virtual and asynchronous courses. Once you’re done with your break, then start any homework assignments or complete any class readings to prepare for upcoming lectures.

Still Network Like a Boss

The vast majority of asynchronous classes have limited face-to-face contact with the instructors who teach them, but that doesn’t have to stop you from connecting with and getting to know your professors.

If your professor offers Zoom office hours, take a few minutes to stop by and introduce yourself! If your professor communicates solely through email or Canvas, send them a quick note and do the same. Professors are great resources for a lot of things, so keep expanding your network even if you can’t meet up with them in person.

Email. Email. Email.

As a final rule of thumb, check your email. When you get up, when you go to sleep, when you have a few minutes or when you just have a couple of seconds, check your email. Since there are limitations on student-professor interaction as compared to in-person courses, it is of the utmost importance that you check your email frequently for asynchronous classes.

To make sure you’re keeping up with important announcements and class updates, VALLEY recommends keeping your Penn State 365 email account saved to the bookmarks bar in your web browser and open throughout the day. That way you can easily see important messages as they come in your inbox.

Organize. Schedule. Break. Study. Network. Email. Repeat. With these key pointers, you’ll get the most out of your asynchronous class experiences this semester.


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