The "New Normal:" How Remote Learning and Adapted In-Person Instruction Are Affecting Our Lives
By: Bianca Viana
As the first month of the semester comes to an end, there has been a lot of feedback from students and faculty on their experiences thus far with remote learning. As some students begin to return to campus, most of the Adelphi community is still engaging in a somewhat remote format. Last semester, students and faculty were given no other choice but to learn remotely. However, this school year many were looking forward to being able to return to campus full time. Although we all participated in remote learning last semester, we are still adapting to this new reality around us. This semester has not only been an adjustment for students, but for faculty as well.
Do students feel that they are gaining the same level of learning remotely as they would in the classroom?
Megan Masilungan, a sophomore nursing student, said, “I do not believe I’m obtaining the same level of education remotely as opposed to if I were in-person. I understand that professors are also trying their best, but some classes are difficult to understand remotely and need in-person instruction. I’ve also felt burnt out at times
A new reality on campus: classes taking place from trying to stay on top of all my online
outdoors as a means to further enforce social work for my classes."
distancing and remain safe. Photo taken from
Many students are struggling to adjust to time management as they’re juggling their home lives, mental health, working and classes.
Noah Moss, a sophomore sports management major, said, “I feel that my experience with remote learning isn’t affecting my ability to learn, but I do enjoy and prefer the in-person experience when it comes to school.”
Some are still meeting in person. Jacqueline Olvera, associate professor in the Department of Sociology, is teaching her Freshman Year Seminar (FYS), Beliefs, Morals & Society fully in-person. She said it’s too soon to tell if her FYS students are doing well academically in this format.
“However, what I can assure you is that their learning in a pandemic will inform how we think about higher education from this point forward,” she said. “One way they'll do this is by redefining the meaning of being a college student and what we should expect from college students.”
Olvera said she had thought the biggest challenge with in-person instruction would be teaching while wearing a mask.
“It's now week three and I've learned to manage wearing a mask in the classroom,” she said. “Now, I wonder how long it'll be before I am able to recognize expressions of learning (or what professors call that Aha! moment) behind a mask. In a few weeks, I will likely identify a new challenge. My point here is that it takes time and effort to manage a new teaching environment and we're all in a learning phase.”
At the same time, she said she’s already seeing the positive aspect to this semester. “In the first week of [classes], I was impressed by how eager students seemed to be about coming to campus to learn,” she said. “In week three, I found it rewarding to see that my FYS students were ready to engage big ideas about morality, even in the midst of an evacuation due to gas-leak.”
Melanie Bush, a professor in the Department of Sociology, is teaching all of her class in a remote asynchronous/synchronous format. She said there are many factors that contribute to a positive and enriching learning space.
“You can have an in-person class that is ineffective in achieving course goals and the same is true for online,” she said. “Some of this has to do with the preparation done by the instructor, though even the question of who is in the class can influence the kind and depth of learning. Not all students have the same access to the internet, quiet spaces, computers, etc. This is particularly true along socioeconomic and racial lines. Students have different learning styles and faculty have different pedagogical strengths.”
Bush added: “Historically this is a tumultuous time - that can impact learning as well as it is easy to be distracted. Some students have lost family members due to Covid. The effect of these broader conditions can make concentration more difficult.”
But Bush said she believes that learning can happen anywhere. “The challenge we have now is that most of us have been accustomed to one format and it takes time to adjust to a new one. Can we do it? Most certainly though it requires significant effort by all and the willingness to be as present as possible as we learn what works.”
Bush said the biggest challenge in remote learning so far has been “a disembodied experience that makes deep engagement and community more challenging to cultivate. Also, because students have many things happening in their lives at this moment, I think it is also important to have expectations that are high though also somewhat flexible.”
Many of us like to set our standards high and reach for our goals, however we must be flexible with them as well. These are not normal times and we have to take care of ourselves as well. It’s also worth noting that some conversations are difficult to have in person already because they can really be powerful and a lot to process and having these conversations remotely can be even more challenging.
Remote learning has been a rollercoaster full of ups and downs so far but in these difficult times we have to do our best to remain positive. Students and professors are continuing to learn more and more each day all the while adapting to a remote learning format. For the students who are attending in-person classes, and the professors teaching these classes, are also adapting to the new “normal” of in-person instruction.
To help navigate these tough times, the Student Counseling Center (SCC) is available at 516-877-3646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.