I, like many other Kenyon students, had my classes moved online last week due to the snowstorm. Additionally, one of my courses was online for the first two weeks of the semester. However, none of them were listed as hybrid during registration. I believe the practice of moving supposedly in-person classes online is unfair to students who struggle with online learning, and professors need to be more explicit about online options in their course descriptions.
I learned that I struggle with remote learning over quarantine during the spring 2020 semester. I am incredibly susceptible to distraction, and actively take steps to reduce it by not using my computer in class, sitting close to the front and never doing work at home. I chose to pass/fail my spring 2020 classes and withdraw for the fall 2020 online semester because the remote model is at odds with my learning style. Luckily, I had the flexibility to take time off, and in spring 2021, I was able to choose in-person courses over online or hybrid ones.
Now that everyone is back on campus this year, remote and hybrid courses are no longer offered; however, moving in-person classes online has become common practice. If I knew that my classes could potentially be moved online, I would not have registered for them initially. It is one thing for the first few classes to be online when enrollment is moving around and everyone is awaiting COVID-19 test results, but holding a class online once the semester is in full swing does not seem fair.
When I was a first year, if weather or sickness prevented a professor from getting to campus, class was cancelled. Often, as in the case of the 2019 polar vortex, classes were cancelled for the whole school. Professors made adjustments to their syllabi to accommodate the schedule disruption or they scheduled an in-person make-up session. Why is this no longer the case? Clearly Kenyon’s Wifi does not have the capacity to support the entire student body moving online while still on campus. I believe that if a professor has plans to move their class online for any reason at any point in the semester, then they should inform the students during the registration period by clearly labeling the class as hybrid.
To be clear, this is a critique of the current state of American higher education post-COVID-19, not Kenyon professors. While I completely understand the position that my professors are in when making the decision to move class online, and appreciate their commitment to my education, I wish students had some agency in deciding whether or not to take a hybrid class.