Published on June 8, 2020  
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing, many students have had their law school learning experiences altered by having to take an online course instead of the face-to-face class that they had expected. Although the online experience has presented some challenges that had not been anticipated, many students want to dig in and make the most of their learning experiences. The following are some tips for how they can do that.
1. Learn the difference between synchronous and asynchronous.
When discussing online learning, these are terms that you might hear, often. They describe the way that the instruction is delivered. Synchronous refers to when everyone in the class meets at the same time (such as through a Zoom meeting). Asynchronous, on the other hand, refers to when professors and students interact with the course materials at different times. Knowing the differences between these terms can assist with selection of courses and preparation.
2. At the beginning of the course, review the course syllabus, calendar and structure.
Whether a student is taking a class online or face-to-face, it is important for them to become familiar with the expectations of the course. When enrolled in an online course, a thorough review of the course roadmap at the beginning of the term will provide the student with an opportunity to address, with the professor, any issues with technology or issues with access to resources. Also, this review will help the student to understand how to divide their time in order to complete the readings and other assignments.
3. Schedule time to engage with course materials.
With online courses, especially asynchronous courses, students take on more responsibility to engage with course materials on their own. Although there will be deadlines, often there will be no one to tell the student exactly when to watch posted lectures or interact with other materials. Students should make notes of deadlines and, accordingly, schedule the appropriate amount of time each week to work on the course. Less stress is involved when there is not an attempt to complete all the assignments at one time and at the last minute.
4. Explore academic success resources.
Although a course may be online instead of face-to-face, many of the resources that provide advice for how to survive (and thrive) in law school are still relevant. For example, there are many resources that discuss managing time, fighting anxiety, and preparing for exams; these materials are still relevant to the work that must be done in a virtual learning environment. The Lucille Stewart Beeson Law Library’s West Academic Study Aids collection has a category that is dedicated to Academic Success. Students are encouraged to explore these and other law library resources to discover materials that can help them get the most out of their  law school courses, whether online or not.
5. Don’t forget about your Reference Librarians.
If you need research assistance or materials to prepare for exams, Edward L. Craig, Jr.  or Leigh A. Jones ( can assist you.