Students at Pacific are starting off another semester of online learning and a new hybrid learning environment, bringing about both challenges and benefits to their learning experiences.
When COVID-19 closed schools in March of 2020, some students and teachers endured their first fully remote learning experience, while others witnessed a change in just how prominent online learning has become in today’s world. This was a huge learning curve for both students and professors, who had to figure out how to teach from solely an online platform. Everyone also had to adapt to new ways of learning and different class etiquette, according to sophomore Gryston Fonesca.
“The biggest difference from my past years of learning, of course, was that I was no longer able to sit in a classroom with my peers and professor and learn,” Fonseca said.
Now, after online learning and “Zoom University” have become the norm, Pacific is trying to infiltrate hybrid learning to give students the opportunity to attend some classes in person.
Professors feel that there are some benefits to this new integration. Timmy Brown, a mathematics professor, believes that it is a positive way to get to know his students personally and have the class feel a bit more “normal.” On the other hand, he believes that it can be tough to make both groups feel like they’re part of the same class since they don’t always interact with each other and it is sometimes difficult to manage both online and in-person students at the same time.
Students share similar feelings, in that they believe hybrid learning, despite the ability to connect with their professors more, brings about confusion and lack of focus. Freshman Hunter Atagi sees one benefit as being able to have social interaction students need to feel comfortable in a class. Contrastingly, he feels that hybrid classes create a disconnect between the two groups of students because the online group has the opportunity to multitask and put their efforts elsewhere, whereas the in-person group has to devote their time to being present in class.
“With hybrid classes, it’s easy to lose focus and challenging to remember your schedule, because sometimes professors change whether class will be online or in-person at the last minute,” Atagi said. “It’s actually my New Year’s Resolution to focus in class more so that I stay motivated in the midst of all the technical difficulties and lack of connections.”
Throughout this newfound era of understanding the ins and outs of online learning, the students and staff feel that they have been supported by Pacific’s resources. Professors were able to take part in a CETCI—Critical Environment Technologies Canada Inc.—workshop, where they learned more about their online tools and how to make them accessible to students. Students appreciate the support and understanding from their teachers when technical difficulties arise, and they feel the tech helpdesk is a beneficial resource for them to have.
At the end of the day, both students and professors still prefer in-person learning because of the personal connections they are able to make and the difference in the quality of learning.
“I have a strong preference for in-person learning because I really like being able to have a connection with my peers and professors, and I find that it helps me learn better in an environment that I’m comfortable in,” Fonseca said. — Chandler Fleming
Photo: Hunter Atagi, 2024, reads God is Not One for his Anthropology 240 class online (Chandler Fleming)