Desks in a classroom in the Huey P. Long Field House on February 5, 2020.

University administration is advising professors who plan to teach online for the spring semester to use synchronous classes rather than the "at your own pace" style classes that many have implemented during the fall semester. 

The Division of Strategic Communications announced in an Oct. 23 email that the spring semester would run similarly to the fall semester.  

"Classes will be a combination of in-person classes, online classes and a hybrid of both," the email read. "Residential Life and Dining procedures will look largely the same, but we hope to ease some restrictions on events and student gatherings to provide a more traditional student experience wherever possible." 

Vice Provost of Academic Affairs Matthew Lee said that in light of this, his department has been "encouraging faculty for the spring who are teaching remotely to do everything they can to [make those classes] synchronous." 

Lee said the main frustration he's heard from students regarding this semester is the sense that they're "out there on their own" with asynchronous classes.  

"We're trying to get that message out to faculty," Lee said. "My anticipation is that proportionally it's going to be better than this semester." 

Political science junior Katie Gonzales said that out of her three synchronous and three asynchronous classes this semester, she prefers the live Zoom calls because they're most similar to normal in-person classes. 

"It's definitely easier in-person because [professors] point directly to the board and say 'you need to learn this; and that's not happening anymore," Gonzales said.  

Gonzales also said she would appreciate the University implementing a set of guidelines for professors so there's consistency in how they conduct online classes. 

"Some of them are doing really well with their Zoom lectures, and some of them aren't," Gonzales said. "I think if we have to do this again, they need to set specific guidelines for teachers." 

Business sophomore Jordan Harrison said it's harder for her to pay attention on live Zoom calls, and at times it can be inconvenient. 

"I enjoy having a set time, but I also hate that if I need to go get my car fixed or something that I have to miss one of my classes," Harrison said. "Being live on Zoom, it's really easy to get distracted." 

Harrison also said when classes are asynchronous it can be difficult to keep up with coursework, and there hasn't been enough communication from her professors about due dates and homework. 

"I'm ultra-organized. I have a desk planner and a normal planner and a white board I write stuff on, but even with those, some of my teachers now think it's okay to just change dates of assignments and not let anyone know. If we were in person, they wouldn't do that because the class would uproar," Harrison said. "I've definitely found not that I can't keep track, but that the teachers make it difficult to keep track." 

African and African American studies sophomore Kaya Lewis said half of her classes are asynchronous and half are synchronous. Overall, she prefers the "at your own pace" style.  

"I feel like certain discussions or classes don't have the same affect over Zoom," Lewis said. "That's the main thing I regret about staying home." 

Lewis decided to move back home to South Dakota this semester for financial and safety reasons instead of staying in Baton Rouge. Even if she had stayed in Louisiana, however, it's likely all of her classes would still be online.  

"It would be easier if professors had a uniform system," Lewis said. "When you're trying to get on Zoom and your class starts in two minutes and you have to remember if the link is on Moodle or an email, and every homework is on a different website, it's difficult." 

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