Reflecting the transition to online learning mid semester

Tania Ortiz, Assistant Opinion Editor

As this whirlwind semester is nearing its end, many students are reflecting on how this last half of the semester has thrown us through the wringer and how unexpected all of this really was. I’m not so sure about you, but I find myself thinking about how at the beginning of this semester I had a positive outlook and looked forward to conquering my classes. Who would’ve thought that COVID-19 would spread this fast and force us to stay inside our homes?

We all know that social distancing and quarantining are necessary to protect ourselves and the people around us, but it has affected our learning environment, especially with the quick transition to online teaching. Prior to the official announcement that CSUSM would transition to online facilitation, a few of my professors began to inform us of the possibility of moving to the online setting via Cougar Courses, prepping us mentally for what was bound to happen.

Honestly, the first week after transitioning into the online environment went well. In my experience, professors made sure to post lecture videos and update their syllabi with new due dates and adjusted reading schedules. I did not feel overwhelmed to adjust into this new way of learning because I had taken a few online courses in the past. This was not new territory, for me at least. 

What made me feel unsure about transitioning all my classes to the online environment, however, was the quality of learning I would be receiving from my professors along with the probability of having to teach myself concepts. A few of the classes I am taking are based on participation. One of them being Research Methods and Design where, prior to Zoom classes, we were conducting ethnographies. After spring break we were supposed to conduct surveys on campus, now the project is off the table because we cannot physically interact with one another.

The online experience lacks the hands-on learning we need for certain classes. Those who are taking lab classes currently will not be able to fully grasp concepts of an experiment. Even students who take language classes might be struggling in comprehending grammar concepts because their professor does not fully give an explanation to the concept or only posted one lecture video and has not updated course material; I know I’ve struggled. This leaves the students to rely more on self-teaching. From talking with friends and fellow classmates, it seems like they feel the same way. Some are left in the dark, having no clue what is going on in their classes and having to teach themselves the material. Others feel that the workload has doubled during this online facilitation requirement.

Perhaps this change in learning structure will allow us to reflect on our experience and lean towards a hybrid way of learning; half in-person, half online. It’s like getting the best of both worlds. Since professors are becoming more  acquainted with the online format (hopefully) and may even consider using an online platform for their courses in the future. 

On the bright side, this semester is almost over which will allow for a short breather before our next batch of classes. Until then, let’s finish strong and not let this change get the better of us.