Letter to the editor: Making the transition to online classes now into the fall

By Emily Nguyen, Guest Columnist

Letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Easterner, its staff or Eastern Washington University. This letter has not been edited except for AP style.

Dear Editor,

The transition to online classes came suddenly for everyone. I believe students and teachers alike were very unprepared to have their education style so completely interrupted. If we are to continue with online classes into next fall, a few changes should be made to ensure high quality education and stress free communication throughout the quarter.

The first few weeks of this spring quarter left many students in the dark and a little lost. This experience was entirely teacher by teacher and varied greatly depending on technical issues and the frantic hurry to get entire classes working online. Even now, by mid-quarter, communication with some teachers is sketchy at best.

This is especially worrisome now, in a time of uncertain health and wellbeing.

Continuing into fall quarter like this will not work. Students will get frustrated and are likely to undervalue the online classes when the personal element of face to faceness is gone.

Being able to have direct insight, conversations and debates with professors and other students is a vital part of learning and understanding; a part that is mostly omitted and hard to incorporate in an online setting.

Fortunately, I truly think the confusion and erraticness of this quarter came from the suddenness of the situation. Given time to prepare and organize can help us all go into the fall quarter smoothly and confidently.

EWU has provided students with many online resources and guides to help us flourish in an online setting. Having links to these resources in an accessible location, perhaps in Canvas, would be greatly appreciated by students.

General study tips are easily accessible to find by students, who can use them to gain control of this situation. Reading these and adding them to one’s routine, or even adjusting your day-to-day, can help the student stay focused throughout the quarter.

Most important, though, is simply communication between teachers and students. A class can not function without it, in person or online. Enforcing consistent Zoom meetings and office hours or sending out a weekly email to stay in touch with students are both reliable options that lower stress levels for students.

I personally had a teacher not communicate with the class for weeks only to send a vague apology email referencing technical difficulties and her poor health. We care about you! We want to know our teachers are okay; please keep us updated. Even just something short.

I am not excited to continue online classes in the fall. But I’m sure, when given the summer to prepare and this quarter to iron out the wrinkles, everything will be fine. We will progress and learn. I can only try to urge teachers and students to communicate with one another and help each other get through this together.

Emily P. Nguyen