Asynchronous courses at SUNY Oswego allow more flexible college experience

OSWEGO, N.Y. – Although online learning is usually associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, SUNY Oswego continues to offer online asynchronous courses for students who are unable to physically be on campus. 

Although the “college experience” is usually thought of as living on or close to campus and going from class to class throughout the day, not all college students are learning this way.

SUNY Oswego’s Division of Extended Learning allows students to take courses asynchronously, meaning fully virtual and with no specific meeting time, which provides a more flexible schedule and the ability to further their education from home. 

SUNY Oswego Senior Academic Planning Coordinator Melissa Semione advises students taking asynchronous courses offered through the college. Advisement for asynchronous students is slightly different, since they are assigned to the same advisor for their entire college education. 

“We actually start working with them [students] from the time of application all the way through graduation; so they have one person, they’re not switching to a different advisor so there’s that sense of continuity and we get to really know them and their circumstances and provide support for them,” she said.

The number of students in each asynchronous course varies, but generally have similar numbers as the synchronous courses Oswego offers. Semione also says that, like synchronous courses, asynchronous courses have a limit on enrollment.

“It depends on the class and the major. But for the most part we’re usually looking at about 30-35 per class; although you have some classes, economics for instance, I’ve seen 40 or higher,” she said.

Although most courses at Oswego can also be done asynchronously, this is not always the case. Some elective courses, specifically in the broadcasting field, can’t be taught effectively unless students are physically in the classroom. 

“And, quite often, because not every class is available online or not available online every semester, you might have more limited options when it comes to electives,” she said. 

“For instance our broadcasting program, one of the biggest hurdles we’ve faced is that it’s not available online, and the reason for that is because the department wants it to be a practical, hands-on course, perfectly understandable,” she said.

Student Rachel Torres is taking two online asynchronous classes during her senior year at SUNY Oswego. She is currently enrolled in CSC 102: Intro to Systems and Computing and IPS 420: Integrative Professional Studies Capstone.

Torres recently moved off-campus and is still living in Oswego, but has a fully asynchronous schedule this semester. However, this is not her first experience taking classes asynchronously. 

There are various reasons why students may not physically be on campus taking courses. Torres attended classes in-person for the past 3 years, but switched to asynchronous last spring.

“I was unable to return to campus for the spring 2023 semester for financial reasons, so I opted to take two online classes to keep me in the school and learning mindset. Asynchronous courses allowed me to continue my education from the comfort of my home when I physically could not return to in-person classes,” she said.

Torres enjoys the asynchronous classes she is currently taking, but she would rather have a schedule that includes some in-person classes to add some balance.

“I prefer a mix of synchronous and asynchronous courses. In-person classes keep me locked into a schedule, but can sometimes be overwhelming. Online classes allow freedom, but I struggle with time management and self-discipline,” she said.

Although Torres likes the flexibility of asynchronous courses, she says group assignments and projects are much more difficult when the class does not meet at a scheduled time every day. Not everyone is available to work on assignments at the same time, so it can be more difficult to connect with classmates. 

“I do a lot of group work in one of my asynchronous classes and it is much harder to connect with others on a personal level through typed discussion questions or Zoom meetings than it is in a face-to-face classroom format,” she said. 

Taking classes asynchronously can be more convenient for students, but can also require them to have more self-discipline in order to complete assignments and learn on their own time. Torres says it is important to take this into consideration before enrolling in an asynchronous class.

“Asynchronous classes are a great option for those who have a difficult time commuting or living on campus, but self-motivation and discipline are necessary to ensure a successful transition to online classes,” she said. 

For those interested in taking asynchronous courses, the Division of Extended Learning section of SUNY Oswego’s website offers information about the courses and programs available, as well as a list of their administrative team.