From computers to classrooms – Les Appalaches

Students respond to the semester in person after being online for more than a year

Ethan Hunt

App State students are approaching their eighth week of the fall semester after being largely online for over a year.

After more than a year of online classes, App State students are approaching the midpoint of the fall semester in person. For many, this is their first year of face-to-face teaching, and most seniors have not had a full academic year of in-person lessons since their first year.

Gone are the days of joining Zoom meetings from bed, turning off the camera, and logging out. The return to near-pre-pandemic conditions has taught students and faculty to appreciate the little things in life.

“When I saw how excited the students were to be back in person, it made me excited because we all missed the conversations and interactions with each other,” said Jean Dehart, professor of communication studies.

Learning through Zoom can be a challenge for many students. Many welcome the return to a physical classroom as an opportunity to take the lessons more seriously and to gain a better understanding of the material.

“Last year all of my classes were online and I’m happy to be back in person this semester. I feel more like a student with in-person lessons, ”said Michael Gautier, senior. “I feel more energetic and have more success as a student. ”

a interview survey study conducted by the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that 71% of 195 students surveyed reported increased stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Additionally, 89% reported increased difficulty concentrating, 86% reported disruptive sleep patterns, and 82% said they had increased concerns about school performance, all due to the ongoing pandemic.

A full class schedule on Zoom also meant a full day staring at a computer screen, which allowed procrastination and prevented good sleep, Gautier said.

For second-year physics student Ian Hull, it’s much easier to complete the practical work needed for his major in person, a task that was extremely difficult in the previous year online.

“It’s definitely an improvement in in-person learning for STEM majors because the labs are convenient. The labs on Zoom were horrible, ”Hull said.

Returning to a psychic class allowed some students to socialize more with their peers. Meeting classmates and teachers face-to-face can make it easier to connect compared to the isolation of sitting behind a computer screen.

Eva Petersheim is entering her third year at App State, studying ecology and chemistry. For Petersheim, the transition to in-person classes has allowed her to make more friends and “get rid of the social itch,” which she says helps her stay sane.

“We are fortunate to make real connections with our peers and our instructors,” said Petersheim. “I’ve never been the type to talk in class, but I guess the lack of face-to-face conversations made me much more eager to give my own opinions.”

While some students are grateful to socialize with their friends and interact with their teachers again, being back in person comes with its fair share of challenges.

“It’s very difficult to teach in person after being online for over a year. I think Zoom has caused a lot of students and faculty to be mentally controlled, and I think some people are still in that frame of mind, ”said Kristin Ivey, senior lecturer in the sociology department.

For some, the ongoing pandemic calls into question the safety of returning to classrooms. As of September 27, 94% of employees and 58% of students were vaccinated against COVID-19. App State had 25 active cases as of September 27.

“It’s hard because of COVID and not knowing how healthy your students are and whether or not they’ve been exposed,” Ivey said. “I have a lot of anxiety and check my email daily to see if my students are sick. ”

In her September 3 message to the university, Chancellor Everts said the university has no plans to move to an online format.

“Recovering from this crazy time is going to take a group effort, which includes respecting everyone’s health and safety,” said Petersheim.

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