How to Stay on Top of Asynchronous Classes


By Elizabeth Jones, 2020-2021 SCS Advising Leader:

A mostly virtual semester has brought many new challenges to the collegiate learning experience. While some aspects of online learning still resemble normal classes, one of the biggest changes to adjust to is the increase of asynchronous classes. Without having traditional class periods for lectures, it’s easy to forget about and lose motivation for class. Here are some reminders that can help you stay up to date with your asynchronous coursework:

  • Set time aside: Set specific time aside each week to watch lecture videos, do homework, and attend office hours or study sessions. It’s easy to forget about an asynchronous course since there are no set times for lectures or discussions. Find open spots in your weekly agenda to work on that course, and when possible try to make it the same time every week. Working on a course at the same specific time each week can make it easier to remember and it will almost feel like a live session!
  • Make deadlines: Similar to the point above, you need to hold yourself accountable for keeping up with your coursework. Set a solid timeline for studying and stick to it. If you’re a little bit forgetful, try setting reminders or alerts on your phone or laptop.
  • Find the right space: Whether you are at an apartment, dorm, or at home this semester, it is important to find the right space where you can study in peace and quiet. If you are at home, think about investing in a pair of noise-canceling headphones to quiet background noise from family or siblings. For those of us who are on campus, try working out a schedule for quiet study hours with your roommate. Sometimes it can still be hard studying where you live, but luckily the Illinois libraries have you covered. At Grainger and the UGL, individual quiet study spaces are available for reservation. Check out Grainger and UGL to reserve a space. There are also some open classrooms available for studying; check out the Registrar's page for more info.
  • Dress the part: One difficulty of not being in person for classes is getting into the right headspace. Rolling out of bed in your pajamas to watch pre-recorded lecture videos won’t yield the same study results as getting ready for an in-person lecture. Get up early for class, eat breakfast, shower, and dress as if you were about to go to an in-person class. Getting ready like this helps to minimize distractions, focus on the material at hand, and reminds you what normal lectures feel like.
  • Utilize office hours: Going to virtual office hours helps you create rapport and connect with your professors. It also helps to keep yourself accountable: you wouldn’t want to go to office hours being two weeks behind on the material. Office hours are a valuable time to go over difficult concepts and reinforce what information you should focus on. Remember, some professors are having just as hard of a time recording lectures in an empty room as you are having to watch them alone. Often, they are just happy to have that face-to-face interaction with students.

Try incorporating some of these suggestions in your daily schedule and you will be able to see the difference. Just remember that college life will return to normal at some point, and we will not stay virtual forever. These tips will help you create long-term study habits that will still be useful once in-person activities resume.