Remote learning has been touch and go

April 15, 2020

     Each semester, some students opt to take online classes, but most sign up for standard in-person classes. This prompts the question: how are students who prefer in-person classes handling the transition to remote learning?

     On March 16, UCCS moved all in-person classes online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some students are handling this transition well, but others are struggling with the online environment.

     James Harrod is a graduate student working on his Master’s in curriculum. Though he has taken online courses before, he has found the transition halfway through the semester to be difficult.

     “One of the biggest challenges during this transition has been adapting to a new schedule and trying to be productive from home,” Harrod said. “I like being on campus and usually do most of my homework in the library, so it has been an adjustment.”

     Mikayla Bryan, a junior majoring in biology, said that the transition has been difficult for staying focused, especially for hands-on learners. While some professors have adapted to the change, others have only made the coursework more difficult and time-consuming.

     “It also hasn’t helped that some of the teachers have been against technology throughout their classes so moving to only technology has been difficult for them,” Bryan said.

     Overall, Bryan said that her experience has been mixed, with some classes adjusting well to the change and others proving to be more of a challenge. 

     Jacenta O’Halloran-Maynor, a senior studying anthropology, said that being able to create her own schedule has benefited her. However, some of her classes now require her to meet virtually for video conferencing, which has presented some technological challenges.

     “I had never used the microphone on my computer, so I had never set it up, and for the first week or so, I was trying to talk, and I thought everyone was just talking over me. But once I figured that out, I had a relatively easy time,” O’Halloran-Maynor said.

     O’Halloran-Maynor has also been participating online more than in regular classes. “In a sense, it’s forced people to contribute more than they would have to in a live environment, myself included,” she said. “I think it has, overall, made people more interactive than they would normally be; it’s easier to be more comfortable in chosen spaces rather than being forced to sit in a class filled with students, which can be anxiety-inducing at times.

     “At the same time, it has put everyone on an equal playing field, which can also make [some] self-conscious.”

     Harrod has had a different experience with participation. “It takes some getting used to. The software works, but the classroom dynamics have changed a bit. For whatever reason, I find it more intimidating to talk to the webcam.”

     Harrod feels that his professors are doing the best despite the circumstances. “I don’t think anyone could have ever truly been prepared [for this transition,] but in my opinion, the professors are doing the best they can. Educating from a distance is a real challenge, and it requires flexibility and dedication from both students and teachers.”

     Another factor was how fast the transition happened. “I feel like we all heard the series of measures UCCS was taking in a relatively short period of time, and we were all, especially teachers who [had] never taught online classes before [and] people [who had] never worked in these types of environments, forced to learn as we went,” O’Halloran-Maynor said. “However, in my classes, I think my instructors had adequate support through the process.

     “Transitioning completely [to] online hasn’t been easy, but it hasn’t been as surreal as I thought it would be.”