College of Charleston Students Adjusting to Online Learning

Staff Report From Charleston CEO

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020

After a few weeks of e-learning, College of Charleston students are adjusting to their new virtual classrooms, embracing the change and finding new ways to keep a schedule during this strange time of social distancing.

For Eileen Vedder, a junior from Virginia Beach, Virginia, the adjustment to e-learning has been easier than she originally thought. She credits her successful transition to her three years of college combined with having taken online courses prior to the pandemic.

Vedder has one class that meets synchronously (in real time) each week through Zoom, while two others use virtual classroom (recorded, self-paced) methods through the College’s online learning management system OAKS, including the VoiceThread feature, which makes an online experience collaborative.

“I prefer the virtual classroom over Zoom, because I can work at my own pace and create my own schedule,” says the public health major.

In between classes, Vedder has been digging up some old childhood treasures.

“I’ve been making friendship bracelets with my sister and riding bikes and the Ripstik with my brothers,” says Vedder. “We try to get outside and hang out together, but away from others, as much as we can.”

For sophomore Joe Brennan, all his professors are either using Zoom or posting VoiceThreads on OAKS. He has run into no technical problems so far.

The double major in mathematics and biology finds the thing he misses most about being on campus is interacting with his peers and professors.

“I am someone who is motivated by my interactions with others, so it’s not that learning the content online is that much more difficult, it’s more the lack of a social aspect that makes it challenging,” explains the Charleston, South Carolina native.

“I try to make up for the loss of in-person time by forming group messages and FaceTiming with students in my classes to stay connected and study,” he says.

Brennan has also found that this “new normal” has given him a chance for some down time.

“I now have more time to read for fun, so I am reading a book by Bill Nye the Science Guy, and it’s wonderful,” he says.

Ava Vorhees, a senior from Charleston, South Carolina, admits she’s had a more difficult time with the adjustment to online learning.

 “I have never been someone who learns well in an online setting,” shares the communication major and Russian studies minor.

Her biggest struggle has been adapting to all the different methods of e-learning.

“It was difficult at first to determine what platform each professor would require me to learn,” says Vorhees. “Some use the Zoom platform regularly, while some require more discipline and structure on my part.”

Vorhees’ creativity and flexibility have allowed her to grow and find humor despite the challenges.

“I am taking beginning ballet for non-majors, DANC 185, so I have been using my bed frame as a barre and propping a mirror up against a chair to complete the moves,” she explains. “It is a funny sight, but the show must go on.”

Despite the challenges in shifting to a virtual learning environment, Vorhees feels lucky to be able to finish her courses this semester online and is thankful she’ll have another semester at the College in the fall.

“I am grateful we even have the option to learn virtually, and I look forward to returning to campus in the fall to gain closure to my amazing experience at CofC,” she says.

During this challenging time, College of Charleston students are demonstrating their flexibility and resilience –  qualities that will help them succeed in our ever-changing world.