AIC Community Reacts to Online Transition

Mariah Mauke

American International College recently transitioned to online learning, which was effective March 23, 2020. The surprising news came shortly after the college’s announcement of an extended spring break. This change has occurred in almost every school in the country in response to the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis.

Homes have turned into classrooms (among other things) during the social distancing that accompanies a pandemic. For the past month, AIC students have been adjusting to learning strictly online without the benefits of campus life and resources.

Rose McCaffrey, a freshman political science and communication major, shared her thoughts on the transition. She described how different it was logging on to class instead of showing up in person. “I miss the interaction you get in class,” McCaffrey said. “Discussion is much easier in person than online.”

There are factors to consider when using applications like Zoom to meet for class that do not apply to normal in-person meetings, such as internet connection, adequate audio and visual equipment, and access to a quiet working environment. Students who lack even one of those necessities are at a disadvantage for the rest of the semester.

McCaffrey continued on, saying, “It’s much easier to get distracted learning from home. I get distracted, often lately in class, and that doesn’t happen in person.”

That sentiment was echoed by public health major Jordyn Dewinkeleer. “Being at home, I have a totally different schedule than I would at school,” Dewinkeleer said. “And it’s not as easy to stay on track. It’s much harder to focus on my studies and communicate with my professors completely online.”

But Dewinkeleer also pointed out a silver lining of the situation, saying, “We’re staying safe and healthy at home and getting to spend more time with family during this crazy time.”

Julia Hoyle, a junior in the occupational therapy program, expressed how moving online has impacted her schoolwork. She said, “It has been challenging due to the loss of my field work experience, as well as two on-campus labs.”

But Hoyle also had some positive things to say about the online learning style. “I can learn at my own pace when watching online lectures,” she said. She also highlighted AIC Student Life’s response to the transition after having to cancel many spring events including a campus wide favorite, Spring Weekend.

Mariah Mauke
Some participants in one of the online Spring Weekend events

“Student life has been great with providing online versions of events that we would have had in person, which has helped make this feel more normal,” Hoyle said. She pointed out that the virtual events held by Student Life were a much-needed interruption from the added work and stress of online learning.

Shawn Tremblay, AIC’s Associate Director for Student Life, commented on what was going on behind the scenes in planning these events. “Student Life wanted to make sure there was still a point of engagement for students,” Tremblay said. “We started our virtual engagement pieces shortly after the extended spring break, and it morphed over time to this idea that virtual programming should culminate in a way that our spring semester programming tends to culminate—with Spring Weekend.”

Even before Spring Weekend rolled around, Student Life had been hosting online engagement opportunities with something in mind for everyone. There have been multiple virtual fitness classes, movie streams, trivia nights, and info sessions to help students remain connected to campus. The events for Spring Weekend consisted of additional virtual fitness classes, digital caricature sessions, and several game shows where students could win cash and prizes.

Tremblay offered his reassurance saying, “We understand that everyone has been impacted by this pandemic in a very profound way, and my hope is that students see that we are still very much here for them, that we care about them, that we keep them in our heart and mind.”