The abrupt transition to virtual instruction last spring semester due to COVID-19 caught many students off guard and unprepared to readjust to an online class dynamic. During this transition, one of the many challenges students have faced is balancing and understanding the new platforms that must be used to attend class or complete their work.
Many students are stuck in the middle of this change, forced to use separate classroom platforms for different courses and met with a rocky transition.
In its current state, virtual instruction will cause students to experience an array of challenges that make online learning unreliable, unfavorable and negatively impact their ability to proficiently learn and perform. Professors and faculty need to give students struggling to adapt during this time the benefit of the doubt due to the numerous sacrifices and accommodations they have had to make as a result of switching to online instruction.
Cal State Fullerton's decision to allow some professors not to migrate to Canvas this semester and instead continue using Titanium only delays the switch to Canvas for all faculty. Even worse, the decision comes at the expense of forcing students to learn how to navigate both platforms simultaneously.
Separating the platforms furthers the extent at which students must become accustomed to online education, having to remember the functions of each button and link on both platforms. This may increase the risk of missing assignments on one service and ruins the fluidity of seeing all of the courses, with each individual assignment and due date compiled.
Migrating every professor to the Canvas system would allow students to help each other navigate the platform better, as everyone will be familiar with the system. It would also allow the IT department to prioritize one service to support and make it possible to view each course's current assignments and grades at once.
Another difference between online learning and in-person instruction can be seen in the new classroom standard: Zoom meetings. The video chat meetings almost encourage students to disengage, choosing to turn off their cameras and speak only when called on by their professor.
A routine like this can lead to students becoming unmotivated and unfulfilled, especially for those who learn best in person or with peers.
For students with multiple members of their family in school, staying connected can be a challenge on its own. Whether they share their internet connection with siblings or other family members working from home, students suffer as they are dragged through glitchy Zoom meetings and delayed loading times.
CSUF has some systems in place to provide students with their requested devices and internet service that includes lending out laptops and personal hotspots for long-term use.
CSUF's device rental service is actively providing students with devices this semester, for which they have changed their procedures for long-term device rentals. Students must fill out a device request form on the Division of Information Technology's website.
These students would be better able to provide these devices for themselves and afford sufficient internet services if their tuition was reasonably priced to reflect the current school experience. The prices of campus-based fees — health services, health facilities and campus union fees — should be lowered to accommodate for their limited usage.
The health services fee, which supports the Student Health Center, is $88.98, a raise from the previous spring and summer semesters health services fee of $86.81. The campus union fee, which funds the Titan Student Center services such as the Student Recreation Center and Titan Student Union, this semester is $149.06, another raise from the previous spring semester’s amount of $145.42.
Fees alone over the course of a whole academic year add up to hundreds of dollars. The school’s decision to keep these fees and raise the amounts is a complete lack of consideration for students and their needs.
These limitedly used services are priced higher for students during a time when they need assistance to readjust to the new online learning dynamic. The decision to lessen these fees would leave students with more money to afford the services and electronics essential to their learning experience.
As classes continue online, the processes and systems of virtual learning must change to best fit the state of the current school dynamic and students' needs.
Given that the upcoming spring semester will continue with primarily online instruction, students should start voicing their concerns, and the faculty and administration should make an effort to act accordingly to ensure a fulfilling and successful online experience next year.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that CSUF's device rentals policy required each student to travel to campus every 30 days to re-check out the device in-person or face a $20 fee every day after the renewal date. The Division of Information Technology's has changed its procedures on long-term device rentals, offering devices for the entire semester without the previously mentioned renewal.