College encounters learning challenges in pandemic
A limited seat classroom, with signs on the floor ensuring social distancing.
Photo by Alexis Sames
Learning online is different than in-person learning due to COVID-19. At Cedar Crest College, classes are offered online, synchronously, and in-person. Synchronous classes are classes that meet weekly, with some students attending virtually and other students attending physically.
Online and synchronous classes are necessary due to the global pandemic. Online learning has its perks, such as learning at one’s own pace, however learning in this format has also brought about the issue of feeling ignored.
“I really love what technology can bring to a classroom, but getting used to having students in-person and online at the same time can be daunting,” Elizabeth Ortiz, the Assistant Professor of Communication at Cedar Crest College, said. “I want to be sure to meet the needs of all of my students and I sometimes feel divided. As the semester goes on, I am figuring out ways to make the balancing act more manageable. I am grateful that my students have been so patient during this time; they are so kind and have really worked together and with me to make everything better.”
Teachers and students have different points of view on synchronous and online learning. Adjusting to online classes can be difficult after being taught in-person for so long. One student, in particular, had an optimistic perspective on the topic of online learning.
“It’s been a somewhat easy transition (adjusting to online classes) thanks to my professors all being very patient and taking their time to explain how things are going to work this semester,” Elizabeth De La Cruz, a sophomore resident student, said. “Deadlines up to this point have been easy to follow thanks to the professors doing a good job communicating with us.”
Deadlines may seem more difficult to uphold, due to the online learning format. However, student and teacher communication is key to meeting deadlines efficiently.
“Honestly I think teachers are doing well at reminding students of deadlines, given the circumstances,” Skyler Myers, a sophomore student, said. “In all of my classes, which are mostly in Teams, my teachers will remind the class of upcoming assignments. In the class that I have in-person, the teacher does announcements in Canvas.”
Due to COVID-19, flexible office hours and additional help are fortunately always accessible to students.
“One of the most important things that students can do to stay on top of their work is to communicate clearly and frequently with their faculty,” Ortiz said. “Students can meet with me in virtual office hours, message me in Canvas, send an email, or chat in teams; there have never been more ways to communicate with one another.”