Students on campus

LSU students wait outside for their class to begin on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021 at Williams Hall on Tower Dr.

One year ago, it was normal to see hundreds of students walking to class in the Quad, enjoying LSU football games or gathering at local bars to celebrate the weekend.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, college life has changed tremendously since last year. A majority of classes are now conducted online, gathering at bars and restaurants is discouraged and students can’t participate in tailgating.

This leaves the question: what will life look like at LSU after COVID-19 has been brought under control?

“I would be open to teaching more classes online in the future,” Mass Communication Professor Christopher Drew said.

Drew said he’s glad he had the opportunity to teach classes online and didn’t have any significant issues with the transition to online classes in March.

“Students who came to class engaged made the experience easier,” Drew said. “At least eight of my students had COVID-19, so it was good that classes were held online. The University doesn’t know who has pre-existing conditions.”

Although online classes are convenient when it comes to mitigating the spread of COVID-19, some students and professors don’t think it offers the same experience that in-person learning would.

“I miss walking around the classroom,” Drew said. “It was a more casual experience. I could walk around and talk with certain groups. There was a little more urgency and a little more inspiration in the classroom.”

Prior to the pandemic, it was unknown if classes would be successful online, but as Zoom has been able to replicate the classroom experience virtually, it has led some to question the need for classrooms on college campuses.

“The pandemic has normalized online teaching,” Nash Mahmoud, associate professor of computer science and engineering said.

Before the pandemic, some classrooms couldn’t meet the capacity for demand. Now, the majority of those classrooms and lecture halls sit dormant.

“We now know that online teaching can actually work, given that we have the right framework in place,” Mahmoud said.

Even though online classes do work, this doesn’t necessarily mean that more students will opt out of attending and living on college campuses.

“College is not just about teaching and learning; there is a human component that cannot be satisfied without in-person attendance and interaction between professors and students,” Mahmoud said. “However, I won’t be surprised if more online classes are offered after the pandemic.”

While online class may have been successful, Mahmoud said, there’s still flaws in the system.

“No matter how hard you try, what software you use and how many questions you can come up with, administering an online exam for over a hundred students is very challenging,” Mahmoud said.

Gerald Baumgartner, associate professor in the division of computer science and engineering, said the most difficult part of online learning was developing effective online material.

“In the classroom it is possible to adapt the content delivery based on questions from students,” Baumgartner said. “Online material must be designed to get the ideas across without the benefit of immediate feedback from students.”

Baumgartner said he thinks LSU will hold classes in-person in the fall.

“My impression is that they would like to have a normal campus environment again,” Baumgartner said. “I read in one of the LSU mass emails that starting in the fall, classes should be on campus again.”

It’s currently unclear if a majority of classes will be held in-person or online in the fall semester at LSU.

Even though classes are currently online, Drew, who taught all of his mass communication classes online during the fall semester, wishes more students would take advantage of office hours.

“It’s easier than ever now that office hours are online,” Drew said. “It’s important that students reach out to their professors. We may not be there in person but we’re always available.”

For some LSU students, online classes can pose certain difficulties when it comes to staying focused and motivated. Sports administration junior Matthew Walker said that while online classes are currently necessary due to COVID-19, he prefers in-person classes.

“I think online classes were a necessary transition because of COVID-19, but it’s not how I prefer to take my classes,” Walker said. “I think online classes are more difficult because it’s harder to stay on track and it’s easier to fall behind.”

Kinesiology junior Andrew Roderich said he dislikes online classes because they were “too repetitive” and it became difficult to focus in them. Roderich said he would dislike taking online classes in the future.

“School and life get too intertwined because of online classes’ and it makes it hard to focus in class,” he said.

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