By David Nelson
Ever since the pandemic arrived in late 2019, countless schools across the country have been greatly affected by it, and still continue to be.Graduations were postponed, sports events were canceled, and. During that time, the college eliminated a list of programs due to financial reasons. This also resulted in positions, possibly associated with those eliminated programs, being cut. As of now, none of them are even rumored to return to the school’s overall list of programs.
The most obvious influence of the Covid-19 pandemic on colleges and high schools is how education is being conveyed. Many students were accustomed to the traditional method of delivery, being in-person, or face-to-face instruction. Pre-pandemic, there may have been some aspects of online utilization, but that would have been minimal. Due to the virus spreading in early 2020, schools were forced to shift to the online format of schooling to prevent further spread.The experience of online school is now something that a lot of students have in common. Although, college students’ schedules could be quite different if it were to be compared. It would depend on the program. Some classes offered at MSUM can make that transition without breaking its stride. Other classes that rely on a a more hands-on approach, would have to manage another way.
Cade Solberg, a second year political science major, reflected that, “It was definitely a different experience to what I’m used to. It was very interesting to see what specific classes were picked to be in person versus which ones were picked to stay online.”
The in-person class method of delivery is something that almost every child growing up is familiar with. That form of education requires the recipient of knowledge to be physically present for lessons. That may be tiring for some people but there might be a few benefits that could be overlooked. Solberg presented pros and cons to online and in person learning, “Obviously the big pro about being in person is that you can interact with other people and make relationships and friendships.”However, Noah Severud, a MSUM sophomore English Education student, provided his own perspective, “This year, it feels like I’m sitting in class a lot more and I don’t have the free time outside of class as much as I did when it was more online.”
The argument can be made that online classes offer a more streamlined and time efficient style of education. If school were to be taught in that manner moving forward, students would not be obliged to spend a number of hours sitting in classrooms every week.
When it comes to online learning, there are a few different delivery methods that are available to professors for their courses. Students at the school are familiar with all three variations. One of those options would be the hybrid option, which mixes in-person and online aspects. Another option is considered the synchronous online method. That format does contain regularly scheduled class meetings that are usually hosted over zoom. The third and final option is the asynchronous method. The lessons are taught through videos and reading assignments, contained in a module, and can be finished anytime within the week in which it’s assigned. This method allows for a lot of student flexibility.
Severud advocated for the asynchronous method by highlighting that, “It’s nice to go about your own pace more than it is in person.” The online variation of schooling does offer students more freedom in terms of how often information is accumulated into the mind throughout the week.
Solberg offered his point of view through the lens of his major, “For my major, politics, I’d rather have an in-person class for discussions and debates with each other.”
The discussion aspect of the education format is critical to better understanding other people’s opinions. Without that, there would be more divisiveness and argument. Online synchronous classes might be useful for certain classes, but is it necessary for some others? There are classes offered that do seem to be more assignment and objective based than others. Such as an introductory mathematics or science class. Is asynchronous a more suitable option in these cases?
Severud makes the argument, “If there’s an online option, I’d always pick the asynchronous option. Some classes just make more sense as asynchronous, in my opinion. If it’s going to be synchronous online, sometimes it feels like, why am I here? It doesn’t progress as much.”
Two years into the pandemic have come and gone. College students have seen several changes happen during that period. Classes have shifted back and forth, One thing is certain in the midst of uncertainty, that is the human element. It will almost certainly be lost with a possible shift to online class.