On a typical day, nursing student Emma Cahoon would wake up at 5 a.m., dress in scrubs, make sure she meets the dress code, grab her stethoscope and head to the hospital for nursing clinicals. Now, she logs onto her computer in her room to participate in her classes virtually.
This is the reality for thousands of students at USF.
“I really can’t do much at the moment, to be honest,” said Cahoon.
The transition to remote instruction has many professors who rely on face-to-face instruction turning to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, Zoom and Microsoft Teams, which are web conference programs designed for online teaching.
Blackboard Collaborate Ultra has seemed to provide good experiences for some students, while others have felt unsatisfied.
“I had programming at 12:30 p.m., it went smoothly,” second-year student Vincent Turner said. “Our instructor figured out the ins and outs of Blackboard pretty quickly and he used the chat feature to quickly answer anyone’s questions.
“If the rest of the semester goes like this, it should be just fine.”
Some students have claimed quite the opposite as they have been experiencing technical issues through Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.
“We used Blackboard for my 11 a.m. class and half of us could only either hear the teacher or see her screen,” second-year student Miranda Thomas said. “Other than that, we still got our class done.”
Aside from technical problems, some students have expressed personal issues with online learning in general. Face-to-face instruction is valuable for some students’ learning styles and the struggles were apparent as the switch to online learning began this week.
“I am not a fan,” first-year student Syed Hasan said. “I love my professors and I actually miss that human connection and interaction. In-person learning is incomparable to online learning.”
First-year student Kyrah Van Dyke shared similar feelings. Certain classes are bearing a particularly heavy burden with in-person interaction taken away, such as lab, nursing and performing arts classes.
“I do not like it,” Van Dyke said. “I lived on campus and although I was tired of the work, I was able to have vital human interaction. Now I have constant anxiety over when and whether something is due and am constantly on Canvas, instead of connecting in real life.”
However, for one particular student, the dance department seems to be persevering. Senior Emily Novack said her dance classes have been surprisingly smooth.
“I have to say I’ve been really struck by how well the dance faculty have handled this,” Novack said. “Obviously, in-person classes are super important to dance technique, but they’ve found ways to give us useful and different opportunities that wouldn’t be part of the regular curriculum.”
Other courses that rely heavily on in-person instruction such as science labs have not seen the same positive feedback for some students.
“I’m in general chemistry lab and it’s kind of a mess,” first-year student Makayla Long said. “They have a plan for the rest of the semester and have created modules, but a lot of things are not clarified.”
Long isn’t the only student facing challenges with lab courses.
“First lab went horribly. We are using an old textbook, the TA was supposed to be live chatting us and wasn’t online, and the assignment was to print pages and make graphs,” said senior Cassidy Hinson.
It is business as usual for other students, even with the transition to remote instruction.
“I already had four online classes this semester, so adding my remaining three has been quite easy so far,” first-year student Angie Bolanger said.
Another first-year student, Ariana Leit, also had multiple online classes before the remote instruction transition.
“Half of my classes were already online so it’s not too hard,” Leit said. “Even though I don’t like that I still have to wake up early, it’s helpful and helps me stay on track when we are using conferencing or Zoom during our designated class time.”
Cahoon can’t say the same, as her education relies heavily on hands-on work. She says that her college, the College of Nursing, is currently working on a solution.
“Our clinicals are canceled until April 6 (at the very least) and many hospitals are not allowing us to come in,” Cahoon said. “We have to get a certain number of hours and the [College of Nursing] CON is working on figuring it all out.
“I guess I’ll probably try to pick up more work shifts for the time being.”