CSUN reassesses learning options amid pandemic – Daily Sundial

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At CSUN, a student-run petition through Change.org with more than 5,000 signatures is a way for students to ensure their voices and perspectives are considered when school administrators make decisions.

The pandemic has made CSUN one of many colleges and universities across the country that has students advocating for a hybrid option for their learning. The increase in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant has some students worried about returning to on-campus learning. Additionally, some students have realized over the past couple of years that the online option is a more convenient way for them to learn.

Last week, UCLA students staged a sit-in protest to make a hybrid option available to students. The protesting students were advocating for the rights of students with disabilities, immunocompromised and/or with underlying medical conditions, which may put them at higher risk of catching COVID-19 and showing strong symptoms during their back on campus for the Spring 2022 semester.

The hybrid model allows students flexibility when it comes to participating in class. Students who wish to attend in person can go to their designated classrooms, while students who prefer to learn from home can connect to the online class via video stream.

Chase Baker, a graduate assistant and master’s candidate in the biology department, is one of the students advocating for a hybrid model to be made available at CSUN. Baker started the ResistCSUN Instagram page, which advocates for universal access to education through a blended learning option.

“I could see there was a need for students to organize and voice their opinions, so I put the tools in place for them to do that,” Baker said.

In addition to being a graduate assistant at CSUN, Baker is also a professor at Casa Loma College, a private medical school in Van Nuys. Baker said the idea for him to start the page actually came from his students, who expressed concerns about returning to campus through the Discord messaging platform.

“It started about two weeks ago when I first saw the petition,” Baker said. “I kind of felt it was my responsibility, since they open up to me and I’m kind of a mentor to them, that I should at least give them the tools they need to do hear their voice.”

Although some proponents of an alternative learning option are calling for a full return to online instruction, Baker argues that schools offering a hybrid model would be the most practical solution as it would benefit students who wish to return to campus and students who would prefer online education. option.

“A hybrid setting should be the option we have for students who aren’t worried at all and with faculty who aren’t worried,” Baker said. “But for courses where it’s just a lecture, I just don’t see the benefit of it.”

The Sundial conducted a survey via Instagram and Twitter that asked whether attendees felt CSUN should resume in-person or online learning in February.

CSUN enrollment for the 2021-2022 academic year was 38,551 students in total, including 32,214 students enrolled full-time.

Of a total of 56 participants on Twitter, 52% said they preferred the spring semester to stay online while 41% preferred an in-person semester, with 7% saying they were undecided. Of a total of 311 attendees on Instagram, 47% wanted in-person classes during the spring semester, while 53% said they would prefer to stay online.

The total response pool represents approximately 1% of the total student body.

Among those participants is Gabriela Torres, a third-year psychology student who returned to campus last week for the first time this semester. Torres has six classes, three of which are in-person. While she admitted she was excited to be back, she also said she was nervous about how the school looked with everyone returning. She found her nervousness well founded when she noticed her classes weren’t very socially distanced.

“Courses look like they used to,” Torres said. “The dance class I’m taking is pretty spread out because the room is big, but the weight class I’m taking isn’t socially distanced at all. We have to work in groups of three, so it’s hard to socially distance. We are all making sure to keep our masks on. »

Torres was confident that she was taking every personal measure possible to protect herself. She made sure to follow her vaccination schedule and keep her mask on at all times. However, Torres said she realized there was not much she could do and that part of her safety depended on the cooperation of others on campus, which she did not feel very confident about.

“I feel safe, but the environment doesn’t feel very safe to me,” Torres said. “There are areas that are not very socially distanced, and in some places, especially in the library, a lot of people take their masks off and the staff are not very strict about it. I would say not all of them.

The CSUN Matadors Forward COVID Dashboard reports that the vaccination rate for people coming to campus is 89.3% for students and 94.8% for faculty.

The dashboard also reports that as of February 14, approximately 43% of faculty members and 36% of student body said they had received their booster shots. Not all faculty members or students are yet eligible to receive a booster injection.

Because she feels there is not much she can do, Torres has joined many students in pushing for a hybrid teaching model that gives students who are not in her position the opportunity to feel comfortable and safe in the classroom.

“I understand that some students might benefit from being in person, especially when it comes to mental health or classroom motivation,” Torres said. “But some people are unable to get vaccinated, some people are immunocompromised, [and] these people should have an option.

One of Torres’ classes, an upper-division psychology course, began attempting to operate in a hybrid model.

However, some CSUN departments have spoken of the challenges that come with pivoting to blended learning.

Linda Bowen, chair of the journalism department, said some of the department’s classes are currently operating in a hybrid setting. However, Bowen said the hybrid model may not be practical for all classes and departments at CSUN.

“CSUN is not an online university,” Bowen said. “Some teachers really like it, but other teachers struggle with it.”

Elizabeth Adams, associate vice president of academic and undergraduate studies, also raised the possibility of scheduled in-person classes operating in a hybrid fashion by the February 14 return date. Adams said part of that decision should come from CSUN faculty.

“It depends on the faculty member,” Adams said. “So if a faculty member is willing to work with students to have more blended courses, they can. But generally speaking, courses that are scheduled on campus will meet on campus.

CSUN Vice Provost Matthew Cahn shared how many college and university administrations have responded to the national conversation about blended learning amid the pandemic. Cahn said the pandemic forcing campuses to close in the spring of 2020 has allowed many schools to assess which classes would be practical to transition to an online environment.

Cahn said the administration is working to figure out what the right ratio of in-person, online and hybrid classes should be. CSUN is currently offering twice as many online courses as before the pandemic.

“We don’t know if that’s the right ratio,” Cahn said. “So we’re going to start this semester by really initiating conversations with the students, with the professors, with the community: what makes the most sense?”

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