By James Herold
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Grand Rapids Community College school administrators scrambled to figure out how to assist faculty and staff members in creating a new virtual teaching format for students. That’s when Zoom, a cloud-based video conferencing platform, crossed over from the business world to a mainstream use.
When GRCC shut down on-campus operations at the beginning of the pandemic, professors used Zoom to engage with students while COVID cases spiked among households.
GRCC student Erin Hunt, 19, Grand Rapids, said she prefers online classes and always preferred them over in-person courses.
“(I was) doing them before the pandemic,” Hunt said. She disliked that when it came to online teaching, there wasn’t always a concrete style to teach, and that “in the earlier days most professors were not prepared.”
Chelsea McCue, 25, Grand Rapids, believes online classes are certainly not for the larger portion of students.
“(Online classes) work for some but not everybody, ”McCue said. “Some professors do it pretty well and run online classes well for students; and others can’t, and it’s just a big adjustment for everybody including the professors.”
Daren Adams, 20, Grand Rapids, believes online classes are “a good way to learn in case you don’t feel like coming to in-class sessions due to COVID-19”. Adams believes online classes “lack being able to be social with your classmates”.
Erin O’Kronley, 22, from Jenison believes the downside of online classes are the fact that the face-to-face interaction with peers and professors isn’t present.
“You can’t be in person and kind of meet other people online,” O’Kronley said. “You’re just there, but you never really meet your classmates. Here (in-person) you can kind of socialize a little.”
With the pandemic creating a new normalcy of how students receive their education, O’Kronley prefers some in person and some online. They said it “depends on the class”.
Online classes at GRCC have become either virtual (fully online from home), in-person and hybrid (delivered at a mix of online and in-person meetings). When taking in-person classes, masks are required. GRCC implemented a vaccination incentive program where they offer students $200 that will be loaded onto RaiderCards if students showed proof of full vaccination by Nov. 15, 2021.