Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still a major issue in our country, Fairfield University made the executive decision to offer students the option to be totally remote or come to campus to attend in-person classes for the Fall 2020 semester. That being said, they did allow professors to choose from three options, as to how they would like to teach their courses for this semester: online, in-person or hybrid.
For the fall semester, I made the decision to be in-person for my classes, as well as to live on campus. I found this would be the best option for me, as having to learn remotely for a majority of last semester was something I did not enjoy. I found I was not able to concentrate as much over Zoom as I was in the classroom. Sitting in a classroom in front of a professor is much more effective than sitting at my kitchen table or in bed listening to my professor lecture. However, I did still have some concerns about coming back to campus. While I do believe it was the best decision for me, I wanted to make sure the University was still going to implement guidelines and rules for the campus community to follow, in order to keep everyone safe and healthy.
All classrooms on campus were adjusted to fit the criteria of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, ensuring all desks are six feet apart. In addition, the University has also enforced that masks be worn at all times on campus, which includes the duration of all in-person classes, whenever you are in an academic building and even walking around campus.
For me, all of my professors chose different ways to teach their courses this semester. One professor made the decision to go fully remote-hybrid, two made the decision to teach in a hybrid fashion and one made the decision to be in-person. My fifth class for this semester was already an online class, so there were no adjustments made there.
My communication class, which was originally planned to be in-person, transitioned to a remote-hybrid class. This class was supposed to meet on Monday and Thursday mornings. The way the class is operated now is that we meet on Zoom on Monday morning at our scheduled time, and then take our class time on Thursdays to participate in our weekly discussion board on Blackboard.
As for my hybrid classes, one is a turbo, and one is a twice a week class. For my hybrid turbo, I am in-person every other week, and on Zoom for the other weeks. As for my one in-person class, it is also a turbo which meets once a week. Since there are very few students in this class, the professor was able to find a large enough classroom that could seat all of us six feet apart. While we are in-person for this class, our professor is remote. Due to this set up, myself as well as the other students, are all together in the classroom and we log on to Zoom during class time to listen to our professor. Even though my professor is on Zoom, I am happy that we are still able to be in a classroom, as I have found that I am able to concentrate much better there than I am able to from my room.
Overall, I think Zoom is a great platform and tool for schools and universities to use, as it allows for a large number of students to gather together virtually. While it is a great tool, I do feel that it does not contribute as well to students’ learning as in-person classes do. I have found that it is very easy for me to get distracted while on Zoom classes because I am not fully present. Many times, for my morning classes, I roll out of bed and walk to my desk to go on to Zoom. Normally, I would wake up about 45 minutes prior to the start of my class, shower, get dressed, eat and head to class. This routine would allow for me to be fully awake and present for class.
Online and hybrid classes have definitely been an adjustment for me, and something I still have not fully gotten used to. It is nice that two of my professors have chosen the hybrid option for class, as I prefer learning in a classroom environment and am much more focused there. The University has been doing all they can to ensure their students, faculty and administration remain healthy and safe, so I know this is just as hard of an adjustment for them as it is for us students. If we all keep following the protocols and doing as we are told, I believe there will be some hope that classes will be back in-person next semester.