By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
While online classes are nothing new, they became a staple for education when COVID-19 hit even if you wanted to attend in person. But what are the pros and cons of in-person classes? Sources from SUNY Oswego and Cayuga Community College weigh in.
• Classroom dynamics. “While Cayuga has always offered extensive online learning opportunities, our students and faculty thrive in in-person courses,” said Andrew Poole, public and media relations associate for Cayuga Community College. “In-person courses offer the direct instructional opportunity, a free flow of ideas and theories between professors and students, easier opportunities for students to coordinate in-class projects and build strong friendships.”
While chatting online with classmates to collaborate can improve remote learning, the incidental interactions of a live class enrich the entire experience. Attending classes together feels like a community effort.
• Traditional familiarity. For students who have never participated in online learning, engaging in this way can present a learning curve. It may seem like everyone is a digital native; however, for some students, this is new.
• Better understanding. For students whose first language is not English or who have learning or communication disabilities, learning in-person can increase their capacity to understand and participate compared with an online classroom.
• Greater access to resources. “Being on campus for courses also means easier access to tutoring and library services, which are an essential element to academic success for some students,” Poole said.
While virtual versions may help, humans still crave face-to-face interactions and physical books for learning.
• The daily commute. For off-campus students, driving to campus every day costs more because of transportation expenses. They may also miss classes because of bad weather or car problems. “Commuting” to the laptop is a lot easier and, in many cases, more dependable (barring tech issues).
• Too much interaction. For introverted people, going back to in-person classes means having to deal with people again instead of logging in, getting down to business and logging out. While getting to know others may be good for personal development, it is tough for some people.
• Less personal time. Some students have time consuming obligations outside of school, such as caring for children, elderly family members or full-time work. Attending classes in person takes more time.
• Less flexibility. Online classes allow students with a mild illness to keep up with their education. They could keep their germs to themselves without missing out on classes. While attending in person, it’s either go and expose others or miss class. Likewise, if childcare is not available or some other family need arises, students attending in person have few options.
• Greater chance of spreading illness. Anyone concerned about contracting COVID-19 or who has a health condition worsened by illnesses like flu stands a higher chance of becoming sick if attending class live.
“At SUNY Oswego, we have a vaccine challenge and are vaccine champions,” said Tina Cooper, internship coordinator, “A lot of our students are ready to go.”