With many classes moving online, how are Fanshawe students feeling?

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: ANGELA MCINNES
Fanshawe College are moving as many of their classes online as possible, but do students feel they are prepared for it?

Following a week of cancelled classes, Fanshawe College will move as much online learning as possible starting March 23.

Fanshawe’s corporate communications department sent an email to students that said they will know the status of their program by March 21 at noon via FanshaweOnline (FOL).

Classes entirely switching over to online learning start March 23 and there will be no exam week. Students have five weeks to finish their semester online and will have access to live webinars about using FOL starting next week.

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Courses that must be done in-person will run again when the College re-opens at an anticipated date of April 6. There will also not be an exam week and if classes start April 6, the semester would finish on April 24. If the College doesn’t reopen on April 6, the plan is to complete the in-person classes within two weeks from the start date.

Prior to the announcement, Fanshawe students across a variety of programs reached out to Interrobang to share their thoughts on the College’s actions towards COVID-19.

Allie Morden, a social service worker (SSW) student, said over email that with the closure of all campuses as of March 18, students no longer have access to labs, computers, Wi-Fi, specialized technology, or even a space to do their work.

Morden doesn’t have a desk or a chair at home for her to do her homework, as she relied on College resources like the library to do her homework and assignments. She also lost her weekly counselling appointments needed to keep her mental health in check. The Counselling Lab, necessary for the SSW program, is closed.

“We are in the middle of doing a very large and hard assignment, and the following weeks were going to be my teacher essentially just helping us complete it. It seems it will be very hard for that to happen now, and it is unrealistic to expect my teacher to reply quickly and efficiently to all her students,” Morden said. “In addition, we have a presentation in one class worth 30 per cent, and we literally have zero idea what we are supposed to do.”

Morden added she heard conflicting information from different professors about what is happening, making it more confusing.

“Some of my professors lack enough technological knowledge to conduct an online class (hence why they teach in class),”she said in the email. “How are we supposed to transition online when some of us have group work? If people are being advised to stay at home, is it realistic or fair to ask students to meet up with other people? Also, how are tests going to be done? These are important questions that haven’t been answered.”

Morden also wants to know whether or not some of the tuition will be refunded to students.

“Not only [are] online classes cheaper, we now have no access to resources that we PAID for in our tuition.”

Ryan Mullen, an auto body repair and painting student, said that his program will not be doing a lot of online learning, and the practical part of his program is cancelled. All of the students’ marks stand where they were before the College shutdown.

“In auto body, we had a panel that we're supposed to finish and it was supposed to be painted and everything, so I’m missing out on marks there and the experience,” Mullen said. “A lot of the teachers aren't really familiar with FOL and the way it works, so we can't even do online classes because of it, for our program specifically.”

He added that second-year students in his program are missing out on landing apprenticeships, as those are cancelled as well. He also talked about the importance of washing your hands, regardless of the situation.

“People should have been washing their hands prior to the outbreak. Like an outbreak shouldn't initiate people to just starting to wash their hands,” Mullen said. “Social distancing is very important, to be honest, especially during the times that we're in now. Travel is so frequent. It’s kind of hard to not get sick but at the same time, you have to take the measures, too.”

Dwayne Arun, a supply chain management and logistics student, said that he received an email from the program coordinator stating all classes will be conducted online and that exams will also be online. For him, online learning is a new concept because back in India, he didn’t have online classes.

"I don't know how it’s going to help us and since this is new for us, I don't know how I'm going tackle this,” Arun said.

He added that he and some of his other friends from India received emails suggesting deferring their spring semester, which usually begins in May, to the fall semester beginning September 2020.

Georgia Rheault, an early childhood education (ECE) student, said many people in her program had their placements cut short, but she already had her placement in January. She is concerned because her workplace, a childcare centre, is closed for three weeks.

“I am on a zero hour contract so I am not really getting paid for these next few weeks. I am having to budget a little more,” Rheault said. “I truly hope things will be better by the time I return for my final semester in September.”

She was hoping that classes wouldn’t be cancelled on March 13, when Fanshawe announced the cancellation for the week of March 20, but said Fanshawe made the right call for their community’s health and safety.

“I am not the best with online learning. I much prefer to go to class,” she said. “I do understand and appreciate that Fanshawe is taking the necessary precautions to keep their students and staff safe.”

More information about how COVID-19 affects Fanshawe can be found on fanshawec.ca/covid-19.