Asynchronous Classes Present Unexpected Perils

John Howley '21, Staff Writer

The maroon banner of the Loomis Chaffee Portal login screen loads onto your laptop\; it’s an image you have grown increasingly familiar with over the past few weeks. You enter your username, password, and you click your math class resources page, ultimately landing on a folder titled “asynchronous workday – 5/12/20” (or something to that effect).
Today, your B2 math class is an asynchronous class. At first, these absentee sessions were a pleasant relief from the exhausting schedule of Zoom call after Zoom call, but now as more and more of those worksheets, EdpPuzzles, and papers pile up all under the heading of asynchronicity, the whole concept is a little tired.
While asynchronicity certainly has the benefits of allowing one to coordinate their own schedule and take a break from the loop of taxing screen-time, I believe that the temptation of asynchronous classes can be a slippery slope.
A large part of the reason that I appreciate my Loomis education and experience is due to the quality and professionalism of the teaching staff. Over the course of my years at Loomis, I have found that it is not the work, assignments, and quizzes that have kept me informed and engaged in school, but the actual expertise and hands-on approach of our faculty. Asynchronous classes, as relaxing as they may be, strip away that beneficial student-teacher relationship and replace it with often-busy-work impersonal means of education.
Without being able to communicate with my teachers because of the restraints of asynchronicity, I feel as though I lose even more touch with the community and teachers that make my education so valuable in a time where I am desperately wanting to be more connected.
Now, I know what many of you are probably thinking: “why would you promote even more class time? We already have enough work in quarantine as it is!?” I would agree with you! The workload, at least for me, has steepened, and with the added stress of our current situation and the inability to interact with others, I am left feeling…plain tired.
However, I do not believe asynchronous classes are the answer.
If I were to offer any advice on how to improve the online learning system, which I believe to be working relatively well, I would argue that we should not give students screen-time-relief by eliminating classes, but by eliminating homework. Our classes, our teachers, our peers are the aspects of the Loomis education that make it so uniquely worthwhile, and by replacing it with mere worksheets and videos, we, as a community, lose some of that essential personal touch.
I would recommend that we enforce rules restricting homework and out-of-class assignments, embrace the class time that we have together, and take full advantage of those precious 50 minutes.