For the Fall II semester, Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, AC President has authorized a transition to a more tech-supported environment for classes in an effort to streamline and focus faculty efforts while continuing Amarillo College’s fight for everyone’s safety against COVID-19. If President Lowery-Hart were a football coach, we’d shower him in Gatorade.
Students and teachers alike were hoping for a semester that allowed for in-person learning, the preferred format of many, which would give a taste of normalcy in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.
Fans of the format testify to a more effective learning system with in-person classes, stating that the video options or the split online/offline accommodations necessary to comply with COVID-19 rules only end up adding hurdles to accessing and, more importantly, understanding teachers’ lessons and instructions.
The fact is that AC students and teachers have had an unprecedented struggle with the currently modified, half online, half in-person system applied to many, one with effects that couldn’t possibly have been known until attempted. Well, here we are, having given it the ol’ college try with seemingly more cons than pros at the end of the day. The energy we hoped to gain incorporating an in-class element is divided, lessening its effectiveness.
We have attended classes with modifications that ultimately ended up inhibiting the time and effort necessary for a quality lesson from teachers, with logistics and communications issues becoming the dirt in what should be a nicely oiled set of gears, not to mention disruptions from active infections culminating in more worry and anxiety. We attended in-person classes expecting to gain from them what we used to before COVID-19, underestimating what it would cost. The cost is quality and clarity.
As students, we often forget the other end of the college spectrum, the faculty. Professors have seen an increase in their workload in having to make sure all students are included, and the more their students are separated, the more balls are being juggled at once. The result is divided energy. We are experiencing a situation where we want a quality classroom experience and that doesn’t seem to be possible as long as it’s divided.
There’s something special about in-class lessons, but, with COVID-19 safety protocols, that experience cannot be achieved. So long as the options are available, we should choose the system that delivers the most focused energy and effort for our tuition. If we can’t have a fully focused in-class experience because of COVID-19, then we’ll take a more concentrated effort in remote learning instead. Splitting the difference with lesser educational quality and a higher risk of infection just hasn’t been cutting it.
Thanks go to President Lowery-Hart for making the move toward an improved educational experience for staff and students alike.