Transition to Online Classes: How are the Students Feeling?

Daniella Fishman, Staff Writer |

This week, SUNY Oneonta’s students have started their unprecedented transition towards online modalities following the COVID-19 cancellation of all in-class instruction. As students from varying homelives, internet accessibility, majors and regional locations log into Blackboard for their classes, they are trying their hardest to assimilate to this new way of learning.

While other SUNY (and CUNY) institutions have opted for interactive learning with platforms such as Zoom, most SUNY Oneonta professors have chosen to post their lectures on Blackboard, forcing students to essentially teach themselves. Unfortunately, there is no immediate or direct instruction by professors other than email and Blackboard announcements.

Jeffrey Kannengiesser, a junior geography major at SUNY Oneonta, described the transition to online learning as “rough and unexpected.” Kannengiesser told the State Times about his concerns for his cartography class: “It is supposed to be a hands-on, lab style class and many changes have to occur.” Kannengiesser explained “Not a word, only one of my classes is carrying on as of now, and it’s not a lab class” in regard to whether any information was given about lab classes.

Eric Gage, a junior meteorology major told the State Times that “every class is going to be easier for me except my lab… we’re doing a group project that we have to publish and this is hard if we can’t get together to work on it.” James Moorehead, a junior biology and environmental sustainability dual major, stated: “My concerns are that our teachers are going to increase workload, thinking we have more free time for their classes.”  Kannengiesser, Gage, and Moorehead all agree that their instruction is not as interactive as in-person classes, yet ultimately feel that their professors are doing the best they can uploading notes and lectures.

While professors are also struggling with their changing curricula, students worry that the quality of their work will decline due to awkward transitions and miscommunication. A petition titled “All SUNY Schools to refer to the Pass/Fail grading system for Spring 2020 Semester” has emerged on and has amounted over 1,900 total signatures. Gage commented on the petition stating that “a pass/fail system would be good for gen-eds and electives, but for people doing 300-level classes, I’m not sure how that would work.”

Kyle Whittaker, a participant of the petition, explained his stance on the implementation of the Pass/Fail system: “The pure fact that this hasnot been implemented from the start scares me. We students and our professors were not prepared to change to a distance learning environment. I know a lot of students who have already withdrawn from this semester due to the unfair expectations put on them and the people around them…This is unfair to everybody involved, he continued, “Hopefully, we can get the ball rolling on this, and we can make this semester a less stressful environment for people who PAID and SACRIFICED time and energy to come to college and succeed.”

As students proceed with online learning, we here at the State Times urge you to voice your opinions, your struggles and your concerns about this new system. We want to hear how you are feeling throughout this challenging time. Remember that you are not going through this experience alone. Your classmates, professors, and friends are all struggling with you and are here to support you.

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