Students are Learning Remotely, again

Last week, we covered some Endicott Professors’ reaction to the decision to go fully remote following Thanksgiving Break. This sudden change had come as a surprise to many, especially students and faculty who rely on in-person and off-campus experience to enhance their learning/teaching experiences. Some majors are in more trouble than others, as was reflected in many Professors struggling to adapt their learning programs to strictly digital, Zoom-reliant learning environments.

Just as Professors scramble to rebuild their syllabuses, students themselves are faced with bearing the weight on these changes and missing out on the opportunities they had expected to help prepare them for their future careers. For some majors, this isn’t a huge shift. As an English major myself, I can confirm that the group-discussion focused, reading/writing-heavy nature of many English classes in particular won’t be too hindered by an online format. However, schools such as Communications and Nursing (among others) will be drastically altered in terms of how their students will have to approach learning.

For Communications classes, an added advantage of the in-person environment is the strong sense of comm-unity (sorry, not sorry) that students are able to form with their peers. Film Major Heather Bacon reflects on how this aspect will be lost, saying, “The thing I’m most worried about for the transition to Zoom this semester is not having that in-person feel that all of my classes have. Comm classes, especially Film, have always been smaller in regards to class sizes, so they feel much more personal. Most of the time you don’t get that same feeling when it’s a just computer screen with everyone on it.”

Another on-campus benefit that Communications majors can utilize is Endicott’s Film studio and professional equipment. Not only do these help to prepare students for the technical sides of filmmaking and production, they also allow classes to simulate a professional environment. Filmmaking and production is, at its most basic, group work. Without the ability to easily work with others, the process becomes much more difficult and messy.

Bacon, also dreading this change, commented, “I’m a little worried/sad about not being able to get the hands-on experience in the studio and with the camera equipment. I’m very much a hands-on learner, that’s just the way I always have been. And our major so far has been a lot of practical things: creating our own short films, practicing camera angles and different ways of filming, learning to edit with the footage that you shot, etc. Not having that at home will certainly be a challenge to adapt to.”

Nursing students will be losing similar concepts/advantages when their classes eventually get translated to Zoom. Nursing is often considered to be a challenging and competitive field, and in-person interactions with both fellow students and professors has made it convenient for struggling students to seek support.

Nursing Major Hannah Kelley remarked on the upcoming shift, saying, “I’m nervous about going remote for the remainder of my nursing classes for this semester since we have such an immense support system here to guide us through. Without seeing professors in-person, I feel as though there will be less easily-accessible support for students, especially those who are struggling in classes.”

Much in the same way that Endicott’s film studio and equipment had simulated professional environments for Communications students, Nursing students were provided with the opportunity to make in-person visits to nearby hospitals. This had allowed them to adjust to an environment they may one day find themselves in, while also being able to observe/seek the guidance of medical officials while in their element.

Kelley also reflected on the loss of this opportunity; “I believe that we were lucky to have the clinical experiences we were given this semester, although it is not ideal to miss any of the in-person hospital opportunities. I’m grateful for what we were able to achieve this semester with COVID, but also discouraged to know I will be missing parts of my Psychosocial Nursing Clinical, since this was my favorite one yet.”

Whether students are optimistic or pessimistic about the upcoming changes to their class structures and learning environments, the shift, for all of Endicott’s schools, will undoubtedly take some getting used to.