Mertens and McLatchie share their experiences with online classes

At Hastings College, Dr. Nathan Mertens, visiting assistant professor and first-year seminars instructor, elaborated on the difficulties that he faced instructing classes in the midst of the pandemic. Focusing on the week when HC transitioned from Level Orange to Level Pink, Mertens explained how it might have impacted capability of the students participating in the class.

“The difficulty for the most part is not knowing, not so much as when class is in session. It’s two difficulties. One is not knowing what tomorrow is going to bring, because I don’t know if tomorrow is going to be like the last time in Block Two when we went to pink. We had as much notice as (the students) had,” Dr. Mertens said.

Given the limited amount of time available to convert the required assignments and lectures, advanced preparation was key for a smooth transition between in-person and online classes. 

Facilitating student engagement during online lessons was another core challenge. 

“Two, it’s much more difficult to involve students who are online because there’s a certain point where there’s a presentation in a large room and everyone distanced. It’s difficult for them to hear, but to also involve them requires me to silence everyone else to have me listen to them and then relay the information out to everyone. That was difficult,” Mertens said.

With Mertens having experience in teaching classes in person and online ahead of time, the transition to online class was “almost flawless.”

Students were more resilient than Mertens expected them to be. He was already prepared to teach the class in Block Two, due to the experience that he had in teaching the class online during Block Six. In addition to making sure links to assignments and lectures worked for everyone in the class, “having backup scenarios prepared was a task within itself.” 

To go further in-depth with the student side of facing greater odds in the midst of the pandemic, first-year Brian McLatchie explained some of the difficulties that he faced. In regards to the week when HC was in Level Pink, he elaborated on how the transition of classes didn’t really change for him, due to his experience taking classes online in his senior year of high school.

“The classes that have moved strictly online have seemed to not be so different from in-person. Since most of my classes have done some type of online schooling it seems almost regular to have a day or two online,” McLatchie said. 

He addressed how the transition of classes online made it seem like things have been this way “forever.” When HC courses moved online it didn’t seem like it was that big of a deal, but rather like another day of being confined to his room despite the pandemic and challenges being faced in all aspects of life.

In regards to the greatest odds being faced in the midst of the pandemic, Gen Z’s experience with today’s technology and the evolving world has made things easier. 

“It wasn’t necessarily an easy transition but it was necessary nonetheless,” McLatchie said.  

He also elaborated on professors appearing to struggle to operate the technology used for lectures and Canvas assignments. In terms of engaging in class and grasping all of the course material provided by the professors, it seemed as though very few technological issues were present. 

Although coping with the conditions of living in the midst of a pandemic, Brian explained how his personal life has been impacted by COVID-19. “I personally haven’t been the best in coping, but I take it one day at a time and it all works out in the end,” McLatchie said.