Hannah Steyn, Assistant News Editor
Following last semester’s largely online/hybrid class setup, an overwhelming number of Utica College students expressed a desire to be back on campus, learning in person. As such, UC is offering as many courses as possible on-ground, while still trying to maintain COVID-19 guidelines.
However, even with many classes returning to on-ground, professors are still having to change their way of teaching to accommodate students who are taking their classes online.
“It’s not as easy as an online/on-ground distinction,” Professor Leonore Fleming said. “Everything has very much meshed together, and so it gets complicated because you’re teaching online and on-ground, even with on-ground classes, because we’re trying to accommodate students who can’t come to class.”
Fleming said that making everything versatile enough to accommodate students, like trying to make sure that students have multiple ways to get the information like video lectures, other videos, live Zoom, things to read, has been very time-consuming. She said it requires a lot more attention to detail and willingness to change plans at moment’s notice.
Despite all these additional obstacles, Fleming is thrilled to be back to teaching some classes on-ground.
“I prefer being on-ground 1000% – I feel like I’m a much better teacher in person,” Fleming said. “There’s something about standing up in front of a classroom that really helps. Even if we’re distanced, wearing a mask and I have faulty technology, I just feel like more of a teacher. It helps me get excited – even if my students are tired in front of me – just having them there and having their energy really helps.”
Fleming said that by doing classes over Zoom, she doesn’t get the same feeling and the same feedback as she does in person.
Sofia Westling, a Finnish exchange student from Åbo Akademi University, said that she too was excited to be returning to on-ground classes.
“It’s been great,” Westling said. “It’s a lot more exciting to go to class in an actual classroom than to sit at your desk in front of your laptop. You get to see people in person, and it motivates me a lot more than sitting here in my sweats and listening to the professor.”
Senior Elma Selimovic said that often technical difficulties make participating online difficult.
“In person, I’m fine with answering questions and giving an opinion,” Selimovic said. “Especially because in business classes, we’re encouraged to engage in conversation rather than just listen and take notes, which is so much easier in person.”
Westling said that she’s noticed she is able to focus better now that her classes are on-ground because when she’s in class, there isn’t the easy distraction of picking up a phone.
“Being in person forces you to put your phone away for 75 minutes and just listen, which works so much better for me when I want to learn more,” Westling said. “It’s amazing to be in person, and to meet all these people with different opinions, the interaction in class is more natural when you’re actually sitting in a classroom, so I’m looking forward to seeing more of that.”
Despite the general preference for on-ground classes, there are still some positives that have arisen from pandemic teaching methods.
“I do like that we have the option to log in online if we can’t make it in person,” Selimovic said. “Like if a student has car troubles or isn’t feeling great, but they still don’t want to miss that class, it’s great to be able to still attend virtually.”
Fleming said that the past few semesters have made her teaching style more easy-going.
“Whatever happens, happens,” she said. “In the fall, I tried to plan and schedule everything and I watched that all change and fall apart, so this semester I’m more like ‘let’s try this and if it doesn’t work, we’ll get through it all together.’”