With combination of course options amid pandemic, Curry completes the fall semester

Michael Foster, a senior lecturer in the Academic Enrichment Center, taught Reading, Writing and Research 1 in a hybrid format this fall.

By Olivia Perron

     In the era of Covid-19, colleges and universities have had to make decisions about how to continue student learning while keeping students, faculty and staff safe and healthy. While some universities decided their best option was to remain completely remote, other colleges chose to take a different approach to learning.

     Curry College integrated four ways in which a class could be held this fall: in person, online, hybrid and hyflex. A hybrid course is when one session of the class is held in person and the other session is held online. A hyflex course is when one half of the class is in the classroom during a single session while the other half is online, with the two groups switching for the next class meeting. In-person classes were offered in the fall with lower seat availability, while online-only classes were offered at typical capacity.

     First-year student Austin Kessler had four hybrid classes. Earlier this semester he said that he found the hybrid classes were accommodating for students’ safety. He found the flexibility of switching between online and in person to be convenient, and when asked which type of section he preferred he stated that it was hybrid sections.

     “They [hybrid sections] allow for us to be able to be comfortable from our rooms on one day and also allow us to have the in-person college experience,” said Kessler.

     Some students struggled with losing the face-to-face learning they once knew so well. Other students found much difference in learning. A key comment from both sides was that students had to become more independent driven in order to have the best chances of success.

     “[The online component] made learning a bit easier since I think it’s a learning curve for both sides so the homework load doesn’t feel as excessive as it would probably normally be,” said Alice Tisme, a third-year student. “But I found the transition fairly easy, surprisingly.”

     For professors teaching in the new environment, a key became enhancing their ability to engage students through technology. Professors also worked on ways to make sure that students heard and understood the material.

     “I believe that it’s one thing to teach to the content of the course material and another thing to be able to create an environment that is conducive to learning that is going to stick to the student so that they will have the resources that they need to be proficient in their professional careers after they graduate,” said John DiCicco, PhD, a professor in the business department, during the semester.

     First-year student Kaylee Walsh had a mix of online, in-person and hybrid courses. She said that she enjoyed the idea of staying in bed for an online class but also warned of the ease it gives students to slack off and procrastinate.

     “Although it is a lot more convenient for me to have my classes online, I’ve noticed that I seem to put more effort into classes I have in person and make better connections with my classmates,” Walsh said during the semester. “So, therefore, I prefer having class in person.”

     Michael Foster, a senior lecturer in the Academic Enrichment Center who taught Reading, Writing and Research 1 in a hybrid format, said during the semester that he found students speak up more in an online format.

     “Students today are so accustomed to engaging the world online that having the opportunity to communicate in a hybrid manner helps me reach students more effectively at times,” said Foster. “Many students who are too shy to speak up in class will more readily share their opinions via hybrid learning, which is different from what I experienced in the past.”

     Whether engaged in online, hybrid, hyflex or in-person courses, professors and students have come to the conclusion that each mode has its share of perks and downsides. In the world of technology, these new ways of holding courses may remain integrated into college life.

     “I believe students remain engaged as we continue to improve our technology and our method of pedagogical delivery as instructors,” said DiCicco.

First-year student Kaylee Walsh had a mix of online, in-person and hybrid courses this fall.