By Trina Stroedecke
Amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic, Seton Hall University, akin to many peer universities across the country, commenced Hyflex classes for the Fall 2020 semester. Through this program, students possess the option to study completely online or toggle between partially virtual learning and visiting campus to attend classes. While the Hyflex program is hopefully only a stepping stone towards returning to completely in person classes, it appears to be the only chance at in-person classes we will have in the immediate future. Thus, the question many students, including myself, have been asking frequently remains: are Hyflex classes feasible and worth all the hype?
While Hyflex allows students to socially interact with professors and asking a question in the classroom is much less anxiety-ridden than your voice echoing off 30+ students’ laptops, does the time spent traveling to class for commuters make sense? Given parking passes are an extra expense, as well as money spent towards gas for a car, does the extra cost of being on campus for three hours a week financially make sense? Additionally, some professors are teaching remotely anyway given health risks stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning students are attending in-person classes to merely sit with a few classmates while their professor appears virtually and an alternate in-person proctor attends the live classroom session. Furthermore, office hours are solely online, meaning advising appointments and extra help sessions take place on the student’s laptop. Meanwhile, several resources are available completely online, such as the Writing Center and the ARC. Finally, commuters cannot utilize study rooms to hang out between classes, thereby eliminating many places for them to to complete homework during breaks throughout the day. Therefore, if you can stay home, why not use the online sources that Seton Hall has made available for us?
On the other hand, there are also several factors potentially making in-person classes a better learning environment for students. Mainly, connectivity issues often hinder the students’ actual learning in a virtual format. Specifically, if a student possesses a faulty laptop microphone, then how can they speak up and truly immerse themselves into a class? Further, using a laptop all day can lead to headaches and cramped hands from scrolling through online textbooks, making it uncomfortable for students to properly absorb the material.
Likewise, students seem to be less focused within virtual classrooms versus in-person sessions. For instance, starting class at a desk and ending it asleep in a bed is neither helpful nor will it make it any easier for a student to truly learn. Importantly, concentrating in a crowded kitchen or dining room is not a viable option for some people. Overall, it is evident that the virtual learning environment creates more possibility for distractions, in turn making it less effective for students to learn than an in-person environment.
Generally, while neither type of learning is definitely easier, the woes of virtual learning and lack of in-person classes definitely makes you wonder whether staying home and learning from your computer is worth the money or effective as a learning avenue, especially if some of your classes are being held exclusively online. At the end of the day, only you can tell how you learn, so whether you attending class in-person or virtually, have a great semester!
Contact Trina at firstname.lastname@example.org