Ever since COVID-19 hit in March of 2020, virtual learning has remained an option for Fairfield professors and their students. I’ve enjoyed online classes personally—some more than others—but as far as education goes, I think school would serve college students better in person.
Online learning was definitely an adjustment for everyone, and they’ve brought about issues and raised questions that no one ever asked themselves before: Do we need our cameras on? Will anyone notice if I go back to sleep? It’s been a wild ride, but I think it’s time to get kids back into school. Otherwise, how long are we going to keep sheltering ourselves from the outside world, something that college students desperately need experience with?
Don’t get me wrong, asynchronous classes have a multitude of benefits. Aside from limiting contact with sick people, it’s also lightened people’s workdays. I remember taking an Art History turbo in the second semester of my freshman year, which involved the simple task of rolling out of bed, getting dressed and hopping on Zoom. That spared me the hike across campus and the prospect of being late. (Shout-out to freshmen with classes in the Dolan School of Business or McAuliffe Hall, or both). Plus I’m sure my Art History professor enjoyed the luxury of not having to drive through traffic to get to campus.
As for assignments, it depends. Some online classes have less homework, but some could have even more if the class requires more self-teaching, which I never liked. Also I’ve often struggled learning everything I had to know off a screen. For instance, I dropped my asynchronous Biological Anthropology class last semester because I had a hard time teaching myself all the material. Science was never my favorite subject, and our professor wasn’t there in person to go through each lesson and answer questions when someone raised a hand.
Regarding the cameras on or off, again, it depends on the professor. But whether on or off, (unless you felt like going back to sleep) you would have to stare at a screen for an hour. Turbo professors give five or ten minute breaks somewhere in between, but class on Zoom, for me, is more mentally taxing. You’re surrounded by too many distractions: your phone, your homework for another class, your roommate trying to sleep or just getting out of the shower.
Having that asynchronous option was a very good idea, either for students afraid of getting sick or for students enrolled in summer classes. But the in-person experience allows much more room for learning, and it also makes the college experience more meaningful. It’s hard to get to know your professor through Zoom and email. Making a connection with a professor helps students get internship opportunities and maybe even jobs.
I’ve enjoyed online classes because of their convenience, and especially when our assignments could be handed in at the end of the week. But as far as education goes, I’ve found it more difficult to learn through a screen.