While most of the world is practicing social distancing in response to the rapidly spreading coronavirus, St. Joseph’s College students are coming together in online classrooms.
Brianna Harmon, a junior political science major at SJC Long Island, said she is grateful that the College is transitioning classes online for the rest of the semester. The College decided to move all in-person classes to an online format, beginning March 30, due to the ongoing threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
Harmon said she typically takes one or two online courses per semester because of the flexibility it provides. In a time of social distancing, she found a new benefit: having a community during an isolating time.
“These online classes will keep the student body connected, and there will be a circulation of learning, teaching and engaging — which is something we are all lacking right now by being home and practicing social distancing,” Harmon said.
Diving into Virtual Learning
Kelly Cook, a senior organizational management major, is already taking a full schedule of online classes.
She started with in-person classes, but ultimately turned to SJC Online because it is easier to manage while running a consulting business with her husband, which requires a lot of travel.
Cook said transitioning to online learning was one of her best academic decisions.
“When the professor is engaged in discussions and feedback, that sets a tone and the class usually develops their own sense of community,” Cook explained. “There is significant give and take, including emails offline, where someone may need additional help. These communications help me get a feel for who my classmates are, similar to how I would in a traditional classroom setting.”
Kyle McLaughlin, a junior double-majoring in political science and economics, also ventured into online learning to help manage his schedule. McLaughlin is on the men’s baseball team at SJC Long Island and online classes were easier for him to schedule between practices and games.
He generally takes a mix of online and in-person classes.
“The sense of community in online classes is great,” McLaughlin said. “Everyone is very personable, respectful and engaging. The professors are also very reasonable and offer help whenever needed.”
Michael Bugliarelli, a senior child study major from SJC Long Island, who often picks up online classes during summer sessions, added to that sentiment.
“Teachers, I have found, are easy to form connections with via email,” Bugliarelli said. “The sense of community is really something that a professor can enhance on the first day with a questionnaire for the whole class to see. This allows you to get to know your peers on a more personal level, and even see if you share any similarities with classmates, which I always enjoy.”
A Word of Advice…
Harmon, Cook, McLaughlin and Bugliarelli are veteran online learners and agree that organizing is key when it comes to mastering online classes.
Here’s some advice that they would like to share with their peers who may be taking their first online class in the midst of this unprecedented time of social distancing:
- Buy a large desk calendar and mark important due dates.
- Email your professor regularly to keep a relationship with them.
- Block out specific time to focus on school work.
- Make sure your family, roommates and pets know you are “in school mode,” so you have minimal distractions.
- Participate in discussion board conversations to create a community with your classmates.
- Don’t be shy to ask questions if there is something you are not understanding.