No substitute for in-person learning


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There is no word yet on whether Cal U will continue with online learning in the spring; however, the university may stand to lose some of their current students if they decide to continue with the online platform next semester.

Johanna Eisel, Staff Writer

With half the semester over, several students at California University of Pennsylvania say that learning through Zoom isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be.

“I did much better in classes when they were in person,” said Brent Zavislak, junior studying English with a concentration in journalism at Cal U. “I believe that the face-to-face engagement causes me to be more accountable than Zoom classes do. I also believe that learning concepts from a live human instead of someone miles away in their living room on a computer causes my brain to retain information much better.”

On July 31, Cal U made the decision to continue with remote learning for the fall semester. This decision meant that Cal U students would either learn online through the D2L website or through real-time remote learning via Zoom.

“At first, I was upset because I was excited to go to college, but after thinking about it I realized that it was better for everyone’s safety if we did not,” said Stevie Hoover, a freshman student at Cal U studying childhood education PreK-4.

Hoover said that video conferencing for classes was a new way of learning. Hoover’s high school conducted learning in the spring through assigning homework that would be due back to the teacher by the end of the week.

“I do feel like something is missing this semester with classes being online,” said Hoover. “Since I’m a freshman, I’ve obviously never experienced college, so it is weird for me because I am in college, but it does not feel like it at all.”

Learning remotely in real-time through Zoom was a new experience for junior Cal U student, Jed Sullivan, as well.

“I have not done any online classes prior to this, as even during last semester none of my professors used any online format and instead just sent us assignments through email or just hoped we would keep up on D2L,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan said his experience differs from class to class and often times, Zoom feels impersonal compared to in-person learning.

“Online classes have been a double-edged sword for me,” said Sullivan. “On one hand, they have helped me by keeping a regular schedule, and thus I’ve been better able to keep myself going to classes. On the other hand, it feels like classes breeze by and range from very intensive classes that require a lot of learning outside of class or are very lackadaisical and make learning an option, not a requirement.”

Although learning through Zoom is not new to him, Zavislak said he dislikes learning on Zoom altogether.

“I would much rather work at my own pace than waste time sitting in a Zoom class where the majority of people do not speak up, technical problems pop up frequently and it is much more difficult to pay attention,” said Zavislak.

Secondary education major, Morgan Kulha, expressed similar sentiments regarding her learning experience via Zoom.

“I feel like I did much better in person,” said Kulha. “Now that we are online, it is much more time-consuming. We are basically teaching ourselves everything, and it is much harder to keep up with the flow of assignments, as well as reaching out to our professors for help when we need it.”

Kulha compared her current classes to her online high school education, prior to college.

“I did cyberschool in high school,” said Kulha. “This is much more difficult to keep up with.”

There is no word yet on whether Cal U will continue with online learning in the spring; however, the university may stand to lose some of their current students, like Zavislak, if they decide to continue with the online platform next semester.

“I have considered taking a semester or two off until classes return to in-person learning because I feel like I am not receiving the education that I am paying for,” said Zavislak. “It is not equal to in-person learning no matter if classes meet at their regularly scheduled times with full-length classes or not. There is no proper substitute in my opinion to in-person learning, no matter how hard universities try.”

Cal U has not revealed whether a vote is scheduled yet, to decide the fate of spring semester.

“We are keeping a close eye on the public health situation, especially as cooler weather arrives,” said Kelly Moran, chief of staff to the president at Cal U. “Health and safety are our top priority, but we also understand that many students are eager to return to on-campus instruction.”