For open option sophomore Jordyn Harris, taking classes at home makes it hard to concentrate. She said she feels stressed in her own home and can’t find time for herself, which can make it difficult to unwind after a long day of Zoom classes and staring at a computer screen.
“It makes me want to procrastinate even more,” Harris said. “I kind of hate it, but I would hate getting sick and missing out way more.”
This fall, online classes account for 34 percent of all classes at Kansas State and are taken by 45 percent of the total student body enrollment.
Harris is enrolled in 15 credit hours. Each of her classes is online.
“We have … close to 1,500 courses that are online,” Brian Niehoff, associate provost of institutional effectiveness, said. “Normally, we have had a percent of classes that were online … through Global Campus, so this isn’t just classes that moved to being online this semester. This includes all distance classes, whether they’re from … Manhattan, out of Salina, Olathe and Global Campus classes, as well as ones that were face-to-face classes originally and they moved to being online.”
Hybrid classes are offered at the same frequency as online classes this fall but account for 3 percent less of the enrollment at 42 percent.
Fully in-person classes only account for 28 percent of current courses. According to data from the registrar’s office, last fall, nearly 86 percent of classes were offered in person at 4,072 classes.
“I think everybody has learned from the last six months of teaching that there are some things that can be done online that add value and contribute to students learning,” Niehoff said.
In the early 2000s, Niehoff said he taught classes online. Since then, he said, technology has improved immensely. These improvements help with teaching online, but it remains a challenge to some.
“A lot of our students like all face-to-face, and a lot of our faculty really like teaching face-to-face,” Niehoff said.
For some students, Niehoff said, online classes may not work based on their learning style.
“Back in the early 2000s … I came to the realization that your students have different learning styles,” he said. “If you’re very visual, if you like to read, online classes are … not as challenging because that’s sort of in your wheelhouse. But for students who prefer hands-on activity, it can be hard. It’s a little more difficult.”
Still, external factors could affect how students fare in online classes. Apartments act as classrooms, so there isn’t a way for Harris to get away from the stress of school.
“I wish there was another way to get around being stressed in my own place, but there is not,” Harris said.
Some classes, such as labs and studios or classes in the College of Veterinary Medicine, can be hard to move online based on “the nature of the discipline,” Niehoff said.
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“There’s plenty of others … which just have a lot of hands-on activity that people have to do,” he said. “Usually, faculty in those areas implement as much face-to-face time as they can.”
Niehoff said K-State offers online training courses for faculty to learn to teach effectively online. Several training sessions were offered over the summer and Niehoff said “there was a good turnout.”