Online school has been difficult, but through understanding our complex schedules, especially in this difficult time, our professors can help us get through this semester. Students and professors work best together in synchronous classes, where professors can ensure their students succeed.
I began taking classes at NIU this past fall, so my only experience has been through virtual classes. I’m a political science major, and this semester I took two similar courses: POLS 317 – Judicial Politics and POLS 201 – Introduction to Law and Courts. The similarity of the courses and the asynchronous format led the material to blend together in my head. This made studying for finals more difficult and caused the classes to feel less impressive.
Things haven’t been all bad; school has gone relatively well despite the uncontrollable circumstances. I appreciated the message board discussions in my asynchronous classes because it gave me time to do research as I wrote it, rather than only having partially formed ideas when in a debate. I had more control when I responded in a discussion and could respond to who I wanted without having to wait (which is a good thing to do when in-person). I eventually figured out which students usually had in-depth posts, which was a fun guessing game to play.
However, I would’ve liked my classes to have a live component as well so I could feel more connected to my professors and fellow students. I feel like I’m missing something in a lot of my classes. I don’t really know most of my professors. I only know them as a profile icon, and not all of them even have that. The flexibility is nice because I can take my classes whenever I want, but I feel something important is lost in the 100% asynchronous classes.
The synchronous classes I took were much more memorable and are having a bigger impact on how I think and what I know. All my professors were good about providing detailed responses to my emails to help me through the semester, but I don’t feel as connected to the asynchronous professors as I do with the synchronous professors.
For these reasons, I’m mostly taking synchronous classes this semester so I can feel more connected to NIU and the rest of the student body. Unless you are really into the subject matter like I was, I suggest doing the same to get a fuller experience.