Online education: How do students feel?

June 26, 2020

When the coronavirus pandemic reached the United States, universities across the country shut down all on campus activity and switched to an online forum. First, Spring sports were suspended indefinitely, large group events were postponed, and the cancellation of classes soon followed. With our spring semester in upheaval, uncertainty soon followed. However, a sense of unity spread among college students across the nation as they were sent back to their hometowns to finish up their remaining two- to three-months of classes in their childhood bedrooms.

As a Clemson student and student-athlete, I was unsure how this transition would work. For many students, not only were they stripped of an in-person learning environment, but athletes lost their sports, seniors lost their end of college festivities, roommates lost one another, and all students lost any sense of normalcy.

In this time of drastic change, Clemson University administrators and professors did the best they could to make the transition as seamless as possible. In my experience, professors developed plans they believed would best fit their students and were also prepared to switch their plans based on reactions and feedback from their students. Professors combined Zoom classes, Canvas discussion forums, virtual office hours, assignments, and assessments to create the best environment possible for their students to finish out the semester strong.

Similar to other institutions, Clemson University provided an opportunity for students to receive an alternative to the standard letter-grade earned for the Spring 2020 semester.  This opportunity enabled students who were not satisfied with the A, B, or C they earned in a class to receive a “pass” on their transcript. Additionally, this policy allowed students who were not satisfied with a D they earned in a class to receive a “special pass” on their transcript and students who were not satisfied with a D or F they earned in a class to receive  “no grade” on their transcript.

The spring semester concluded in a way that no one expected and required students, faculty, and staff to be more creative, forgiving, and exemplary with themselves and others as we all faced unique circumstances. Continue reading below to hear how this impacted the student perspective.

Chandler Potts, Senior, Graphic Communication on Online Learning

This summer I enrolled in eighteen credit hours in order to finish my last semester of college. To say that eighteen credits combined with a full-time internship, job interviews, and the current events happening in our world is a lot to manage would be an understatement. However, the online education provided by the university has actually helped to alleviate some of the pressure that I have experienced. My professors made a huge effort to give their students everything they would get from an in-person class and have also made modifications to make the transition smooth for students.

The majority of my classes are taught by recorded lectures and shared learning decks; with instructors creating availability to meet on Zoom as you would with office hours. Email correspondence has strengthened and I feel that any question I may have is valued and answered quickly. The most prominent change that I have experienced comes from a professor that completely restructured her course and made it self-paced. This means that students can complete and submit assignments on their own timeline so long as they are turned in before the end of the semester in order to alleviate any added stress of due dates. While policy changes such as this may not be suitable for everyone, it has helped me hone my management and self-accountability skills while also helping me manage my stress levels.

This semester has been challenging, everything has changed, but it has also been incredibly uplifting to see my community come together to support and empathize with each other. I find myself feeling grateful that I have had the opportunity to gain this experience of learning in an adaptive environment. Although challenging, the Clemson community coming together to make changes and adapt to improve learning for all is what makes this place so special.

Authors: Bridget Kane and Chandler Potts


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