Asynchronous classes alter student experiences

CN: Andrea Cerna

By: Raymond Nava

Due to the COVID-19, classes at East Los Angeles College went fully remote on March of 2020. However, classes would take on two forms. 

Some classes are synchronous, which are online classes where most of the time feature lectures done through zoom, and some are asynchronous, which feature no zoom lectures or face to face interactions. This can be a disadvantage for students who have difficulty with certain learning styles.

The primary disadvantage with asynchronous classes is that there is no set lecture meeting for the class. This means that students will, depending on the professor, be left to follow posted assignments and materials, in essence, self-teaching. 

This is a problem for students who feel they need some sort of direction when it comes to learning, and face to face lectures provide them with somewhat of a set of directions when it comes to the material they are learning. The effects can vary depending upon the class.

Some asynchronous classes can pose more challenges than others. For a history class, understanding the lesson may not be as challenging because history can be more of retention of the material, rather than in the case of a math class, where it’s a retention of the understanding of the process. 

Math classes in particular can pose great difficulty. Some students may have a hard time with math classes to begin with, and having them in essence teach themselves the lesson does not help. This can also extend to statistics and chemistry classes.

Asynchronous classes can also cause delays on when students choose to take their classes. Some asynchronous classes that are needed for a degree would have to be put off until either there is a synchronous class or when ELAC opens back up and in person classes resume. This can happen if a specific class has only one offering and it’s asynchronous.

One of the biggest benefits of having a synchronous class during the pandemic is that face to face lectures gives students the chance to ask questions within that time. 

Because asynchronous classes don’t have set meetings, if a student has a question about the lesson, they may have to email the professor and wait for a response, which could eat up time. 

This is not as big of a problem with synchronous classes but again, with some classes only having an offering of being asynchronous, this could complicate many students’ plans for their class layouts. 

A small benefit from having synchronous classes with lectures is that it helps students with note taking. Without lectures, students may have a hard time jotting down notes on the material, as they may be unsure of how much to write down and what may or may not be important. 

With face to face lectures, it’s a bit easier to write down notes as it can be inferred that what the professor is presenting is likely to be crucial information for whatever class it is.

The pandemic has forced ELAC to adjust the ways students learn in order to keep them safe. Switching to fully online classes is the best way to continue with classes and should be kept until the pandemic subsides. 

However, having asynchronous classes only adds new challenges to students and is not the best way online classes should be conducted.

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