Students find silver lining with hybrid classrooms and virtual teaching – Annenberg Media


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After more than a year of virtual learning, USC returned to campus to kick off the 2021-2022 academic year. The residences are full of students and Trousdale Parkway is full of skateboarders, cyclists and pedestrians. For fall classes, most students have returned to class, but the flexibility of virtual learning remains in place – a unique feature of returning from college.

But according to students, faculty attitudes towards virtual learning and the rules for the classroom vary widely when it comes to blended learning options.

Some professors choose to use Zoom in addition to their in-person classes to allow flexibility for students who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who are feeling ill but still wish to attend lectures online. Other instructors allow students to use Zoom for more flexibility in other circumstances. While this flexibility is seen by some as an advantage, the inconsistent politics across campus is confusing for others.

Willa Seidenberg, a professional practice professor in journalism, says Zoom is a “game changer” for her and her students. It allows students to zoom in in the classroom for reasons other than COVID-19, including other health and personal issues.

“I just have to believe that students are doing it for the right reasons,” Seidenberg said. “And if they’re not, it’s theirs. It’s not primary school, it’s college, in many ways the students are somehow responsible for their own education.

For students with busy schedules, prioritizing mental health and personal complications is sometimes more urgent than a discussion or lecture. These students believe their education is important, however, when other priorities get in the way, having virtual options is beneficial.

“Sometimes it’s hard to go in person, you don’t really know what people’s situation is,” said Premlatha Premkumar, a second year major in electrical engineering. “They might have family members to take care of, career-related opportunities or obligations, or just general or mental well-being issues.”

While some students believe that faculty should respect students’ personal circumstances and allow them to attend classes through Zoom, without asking questions, others believe that they take advantage of the flexible distance learning options provided by students. teachers.

“Students shouldn’t be able to zoom in because they just didn’t feel like coming to class that day,” said Henry Baez, a freshman majoring in international relations.

Despite about a year and a half of online courses, USC has yet to release college-wide policies regarding e-learning policies.

“Your health and safety is our number one concern,” the Marshal’s Office said in an August 20 email to the students. “Faculty have been asked to be flexible with any health-related absence this year. Students who follow academic protocols can request lecture notes, lecture recordings (if applicable), and work with faculty to further their academic progress if they are not feeling well or need to be isolated.

For some programs, such as Performing Arts majors, not all classes may offer virtual options due to the structure and requirements of the class.

Savannah Watson’s classes are all held in person with a Zoom option strictly reserved for sick students. Watson, a sophomore music major, said virtual learning is difficult for her program and puts students at a disadvantage.

“A lot of what we do is collaborate and rehearse together, which just isn’t possible to do on Zoom due to lag and other technical difficulties,” Watson said. “So I understand that the teachers are more strict in these cases, because you cannot actually complete the lessons on Zoom.”

Watson said performance-based classes, such as those at USC Thornton School of Music or USC School of Dramatic Arts, should be strict about in-person attendance. However, she doesn’t necessarily agree with professors who are strict about who attends via Zoom for lectures.

“A lecture is a lecture, whether you’re on Zoom or in the classroom,” Watson said.

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Norma A. Roth