FSU’s Online Classes: Prepared Enough?

Chris Gerhardt – 

With the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, it was well known to many, if not all, college students that they would be engaging in online classes come the fall. Most got a glimpse at what online learning was like the previous spring semester, when the first wave canceled in person classes after spring break. For those who experienced it, the transition from traditional learning to remote was undoubtedly a jarring one. Both teachers and students alike were not prepared for the sudden change

But with more time to plan and work with online classes in mind, surely the fall semester of almost entirely remote learning would be better implemented, wouldn’t it?

Well that seems to in fact be a point of minor contention among some, and major among others. Naturally, there are few students that are not happy about classes they anticipated or hoped would be at the university have been changed to an online format, even if the change was unsurprising. Doing things entirely remote brings with it a different set of rules as well as a different method of handling assignments. Some students don’t like it, some do, and some are simply willing to live with it.

However it seems the main issue stems from students who do not feel they are getting the most out of their classes because they are online. Students who feel that sort of schooling just doesn’t fit the way they need to learn. Students who worry this method will affect not only their grades, but their entire education.

Still at the very least knowing it would be the situation in advance would make things a little easier wouldn’t it?

“I can prepare all I can for online classes,” says Christoph Knoll, a senior English Major “and it still doesn’t change that I do not learn as well in that environment.”

Or perhaps not, as Christoph kindly put, online learning is not conducive for every student’s education. Being in the classroom personally, seeing their classmates and professors in person goes a large way in solidifying oneself in that educational environment. When people are forced to remain in their homes or in their dorm it becomes harder to detach from that environment and assume the one of the classroom.

It may have been done in the spring, but that does not inherently prepare students, or even teachers, for it to happen again. And despite it being hastily done in the spring, students like Christoph have a better opinion of last semester than this one. The reason why is simple, last semester Fitchburg State University offered a pass/fail option for its classes.

“For students like myself…having the option for the pass/fail was very helpful to us,” Christoph explained when asked about his thoughts on the differences between this and last semester.

It’s not entirely surprising really. If someone doesn’t learn well online, they certainly wouldn’t want to risk it affecting their grades when the change was out of their hands.

But does knowing going in really make that much of a difference? Especially when right now the only choice such students seem to face is dealing with it or delaying their college career a semester or more. Which in and of itself hardly seems like much of a choice.

Are the online and hybrid classes students currently face truly the only option? Or are there others? Or further still, can these methods change to better suit the students?  

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