By Hannah McKelvey
No one could have anticipated that the 2020 spring semester would end with almost all of the students leaving St. Mike’s nine weeks early. But as the Covid19 pandemic hit the country, the semester changed.
St. Mike’s administration, professors, staff members, IT, and many more worked hard to keep classes up and running virtually. For almost everyone, taking and conducting classes virtually is a new thing. With new things come good and bad factors. This article is about exploring how the transition to online classes has been for the students of St. Mike’s through their own words.
The Defender conducted a unique nonscientific survey on how the transition to remote learning has been for students. We wanted to give the students a platform in which they could honestly speak to their professors without the risk of it backfiring on them. The survey was posted to all St. Mike’s Facebook class pages and 64 students replied. The breakdown of the years are as follows:
Class of 2020- 25 students
Class of 2021- 11 students
Class of 2022- 9 students
Class of 2023- 19 students
Please describe your overall experience of transitioning to online classes?
- “It was hard, sudden, and stressful”
- “I have had a really difficult time. Some professors aren’t answering my emails, it’s difficult to keep up with deadlines, and I feel really lost.”
- “It has gone well. I definitely miss in-person classes, but I’m really proud of my professors for stepping up and making this version work too.”
- “Sad and depressing because I can’t even see my peers in real classrooms.”
- “Transitioning to online classes has been a pretty unsatisfying experience overall. Most of my professors are really putting in a lot of effort to make the transition, which I appreciate, but there’s a reason why I chose a physical school to get my undergraduate degree. Some of my classes are just better delivered face to face. I am not someone who learns well when I have to sit down and do a lot of reading or video watching and I am not productive at home.”
The bar that was not named was:“Pre-Recorded lectures on PowerPoint”
** Some students may have chosen more than one option for this question**
What are some of the changes you feel like your professors have done a good job at doing during this transition?
- “Communication and flexible deadlines.”
- “Trying to connect with us and see how we are doing and acknowledging the toughness of online classes.”
- “My professors have all been really understanding that this global pandemic has a profound mental impact on all of us. One of my professors routinely asks us normal conversation questions to get a read on how we are doing as a person, not as a student. Most of my professors have stepped up and tried to make it so class is not an undue burden in a time when there’s a lot more to worry about than grades.”
- “Professors have been very responsive in emailing. I feel like I can quickly email a professor any question and they’ll get back to me quickly, or they’re happy to zoom or connect another way. All of my professors have also been there outside of class. They’ve connected on a more personal level, expressing their concern for our mental health and expressing their condolences for the way our semester is ending, I’m so appreciative of that.
- There is no debate that St. Mike’s as a whole has done an amazing job of transitioning all of our classes online. However, when looking into the future we have to consider the real possibility for the fall. Countries all over the world have no idea when the next time large groups of people are going to be able to gather, let alone live within close proximity and shared bathrooms. This means that fall semester of 2020 could very much be held remotely. Moving forward, I think giving students an opportunity to share how they feel on ways professors could improve online classes is extremely important.
What are some of the changes that you feel like your professor could improve on if online classes were to be held once again?
- “Don’t add assignments just because we can’t meet in class. If you want to still hold classes during time for discussions, fine, but adding more work and expectations outside of the classroom won’t help anyone”
- “Some of my professors are relying on the textbooks more now, and will assign a chapter to read rather than doing a full length lecture. It would be helpful for them to give us sections or topics to focus on. In class, usually what they lecture on is the most important material and you can fill it in with the book. Now, I don’t know what they want me to know when they want me to read a whole chapter, which is challenging. I don’t think they’re trying to be difficult and expect you to learn a whole chapter, but more guidance on what to focus on would be helpful.”
- “The most frustrating thing is professors scheduling zoom meetings 15 minutes before the class is supposed to be! Some class days we have a zoom meeting, others not. We don’t know until 15-45 minutes before the class starts, or sometimes an email never comes. I am not going to sit near my laptop waiting for a zoom invite or email all day. Schedule it at least a day in advance so we can have some structure.”
- “I’ve had a teacher who decided not to do any lectures/ actually instruct us. Instead, I’ve been given papers to read and told to figure it out.”
People come to St. Mike’s because of the community. We thrive off of seeing familiar faces around campus, having a personal conversation as well as thoughtful intellectual conversation with our professors. For many of us, we have had years of living down the hall from our best friends to suddenly being hundreds of miles apart. This is a crazy and stressful time for everyone, so we asked the students
“What do you want your professors to know during this time?”
- “That it’s very hard to do work at home when you have many distractions. There is no library or Dion to escape to. We all know we need to get the work done but expectations should not be as high. We all went to a small liberal arts college for personal instruction and connections with professors, and we no longer have that.”
- “Thank you for understanding the issues we’re all facing. I know it’s just as hard on you as it is for us”
- “Thank you for stepping up!!”
- “We are more than your students right now. We are fellow human beings living through a confusing, scary and historic time. We want to look to you as mentors, for advice and solace and stability. For so many, we love what we study and we love the professors that we connect with. Online classes make it hard to have that connection and stability, but a global pandemic (when many students are under new and confusing stresses) is when we need that connection and stability.”
- “I’m trying. There’ll be moments where I can’t get everything done on time for a day, but I haven’t given up on getting through the semester and I’m doing what I can with what energy and motivation I have.”
- “We are all under immense amounts of stress and while we all know and believe our education is very important, we all may have more pressing matters at hand as opposed to when we are all on campus without the pandemic.”
- “We are all in this together!”