By LEXI SMITH and ALYSSA FANT
Both students and faculty say succeeding in video conference-based classes is challenging. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Amarillo Colege offers numerous classes in a “tech-supported” format, which relies on programs such as Zoom. This new teaching method has led to new problems, including everything from weak internet signals and dropped connections to the challenge of remembering to get out of bed and log in on time.
“I have been struggling a little bit. I do better face to face with a teacher,” Savannah Garcia, a nursing student, said. Some students said they feel that specific classes are harder online than others.
“My goal is to pass math, especially because I’m taking it fully on Zoom,” Autumn Logan, a zoology major, said. Many students say Zoom learning makes it more difficult to concentrate. “Giving my full attention to the class when I am around so many things that can distract me; on top of not getting that one-on-one teaching with the professor, has made things very hard,” Garcia said.
Courtney Milleson, an associate speech professor of communication, said she works hard to help students
fight distractions. “Most of the same teaching material is going on, but it is a lot harder to keep the attention over a screen,” Milleson said. “Although, I do think that this is the best solution under the circumstances, it has made keeping students’ focus on me and the material tough. That is why I like to have a lot of repetition involved in learning material, as well as using teamwork techniques to keep my students interactive,” Milleson said.
Moving to tech-supported classes also has prevented some students from taking advantage of AC’s free
tutoring services. Jeannie George, the director of the student learning support, said some students may not realize they can access tutoring services virtually. The college started virtual tutoring in March as a result of the pandemic. On-campus tutoring remains available as well.
“Students can use virtual tutoring for any subject including math, science and writing,” George said. “There is also a math Zoom room tutoring session that is always available, so students don’t have to schedule an appointment.”
Angela McNabb, the supervisor of the Science Enrichment Center and Tutoring Center, described virtual tutoring as similar to its in-person counterpart. “We use Zoom to meet one-on-one with the student,” McNabb said. “We begin by asking the student questions to gauge where they are in the learning process, go over study techniques and test-taking strategies if needed, and then ask and answer questions to clarify gaps in the student’s understanding of the material.”
Will Hays, a history major, said he uses the virtual tutoring system frequently. “Getting a time scheduled with the tutors is quick and easy,” said Hays. “They are very helpful and will answer any of your questions, except direct homework questions, obviously. Overall, I would give them a 10 out of 10,” Hays said.
Another issue students say they have experienced with the tech-supported classes is an increased sense of isolation. “Meeting new people during this online time has been much more difficult,” Jacquelyn Blalock, a general studies major, said. “It’s easier to reach out to people when you’re sitting right next to somebody, rather than if you don’t even know what they look like or sound like.”
Milleson said she also worries about students feeling isolated and disconnected from campus. “Socially, I find that it is very lacking. A lot of my friends now are people that I met in college and the fact that you guys are not finding friends now, it worries me for you,” she said.