Opinion | What’s your experience with online versus in-person courses?

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James Hoeck

Andres Munoz, student in the English Institute, discusses how online classes have been beneficial toward him understanding English through the use of headphones.

By Samuel Rahman and Talia Duffy

The University began the 2021-2022 school year with the hopes that classes would remain in person as we attempted to transition back into what pre-pandemic campus environments looked like. Nevertheless, not all classes would return to in-person sections, and asynchronous courses populated the course catalog.

Due to rising COVID-19 cases, the University shifted classes in the first week of the spring semester to online. Since then students experienced two periods of harsh winter weather that, once again, saw University administrators release Massmails declaring another break from in-person education. Students were asked how are they dealing with the transition back and forth between online and in-person classes?

Sabeen Rahman, senior in Engineering
“It’s been very hectic. Online classes were obviously really convenient. And then when we came back to in-person, a lot of the professors were lenient and understanding. Students could go online if they needed to.”

“Full disclosure, when we first went online in March 2020, it was terrible. I don’t think I remember anything I was supposed to learn in those couple months. It was really hard.”

“I got better at self-managing because you had to teach yourself a lot more. A lot of my labs became virtual which is hard for engineering labs: doing simulations virtually instead of experiments in the lab.”

Hafsa Shahzad, junior in LAS
“I made sure that my schedule wasn’t too bad in terms of online and in-person classes, so I could make the transition easier for myself, but it’s very different. I thought I would be able to bounce back into it because we did this before. But having to sit there for almost two hours in a lecture hall, I forgot how mind-numbing it can be sometimes. I think the hybrid part is helping.”

“When we first went online in March 2020, we were just trying to get through classes to pass. I wasn’t retaining much. But with anything, with time you get practice, and it gets better through trial and error. I think everyone did a good job of knowing that this was something new, and we should make it easier for each other.”

Andres Munoz, student in the Intensive English Institute
“At the beginning, it was a little bit difficult to schedule most of the learning processes, but it’s part of our new condition. We had to be open to accept it. Generally, I had a good experience with online participation. As a student of the English Institute, when I take classes online, I can use headphones so my listening experience is better. In person, the professors wear masks so it is difficult to listen. For me, it’s OK to have my classes online.”

Pavle Buksanovic, junior in LAS
“I personally have been struggling with it. I find it difficult to find the motivation in the morning if classes are online. I know, when we had the snow days, it was pretty bad for me academically.”

“When the University was totally online last year, I was on campus. Because everything was asynchronous, it was up to the professors to organize things in a way they wanted to, but it sometimes ended up being more work for the students. I think there were some good things to come out of it: that homeworks can be submitted online; more flexibility if you are sick or if there is snow.”

“It’s better that we know how to use online learning now because of the flexibility it gives to learning. Even though it is probably better for the students, I still don’t like it.”

Courtney Nofsinger, junior in AHS
“This is my first year back at school, so I didn’t really experience COVID-19 online. This is extremely new for me, so the first week online, it was hard to understand what was expected of me for the semester.”

“I definitely felt bad for my friends that went through online schooling when it first came around last school year. I was going to school when it was completely in-person before COVID, so it was definitely interesting to see their experience, and I felt bad for them.”

“Fall 2021 was the first semester I was back and all my classes were in person with no switch to online. But now this semester, I feel professors are more sympathetic to you if you have COVID: giving you online opportunities to make up what you missed.”

Whether we like it or not, the recent snow days have proven that the University will continue to use online learning tools in lieu of in-person courses when physical instruction is inconvenient. It’s up to the students to adjust to the oscillation and get the most out of these academic experiences no matter how they are taught.

Samuel is a senior in LAS.
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Talia is a freshman in Media.
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