Remote learning derailed some college students’ plans, but not everyone struggled

One of 75 retrofitted classrooms at UH.
One of 75 retrofitted classrooms at UH.(Hawaii News Now)
Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 5:03 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When the pandemic started, Nahe Valencia was a high school senior at Kamehameha Schools Kapalama Campus about to graduate with her class and celebrate her hard work.

Because of COVID restrictions, her school opted to hold a drive-by graduation. After not getting the closure she expected, she then started at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in the Fall 2020 semester.

As she began to take classes toward a fashion merchandising degree, she struggled to maintain a healthy balance between school and home life — eventually deciding to drop out.

Valencia isn’t alone. Many college students in Hawaii struggled with remote courses during the pandemic due to the difficulty of differentiating between a home and school setting.

“When you’re condensed to one room or one area in the world, it’s just so hard to separate all those different aspects of your life,” Valencia shared.

“Especially during the pandemic when it first started, everyone was just stuck in their homes, and you had to do work, school and then leisurely time all in one space. It all kind of blended together.”

Students had no choice but to either engage in lectures and classes via Zoom or asynchronously for the first year and a half due to the pandemic.

This had a mental toll on many, causing some students to ultimately choose to take time off from their education.

Valencia ended up dropping all her courses at UH Manoa during the Fall 2021 semester before the 50% refund deadline.

“My learning style was not fit for this time of learning, especially when I was practically teaching the course to myself. I needed this time to figure out what I wanted to do. And I feel like I just wasn’t happy in my major and in my school life,” said Valencia.

Later on in the pandemic, UH Manoa added hybrid courses (both in-person and online) in addition to Zoom and asynchronous learning.

While this type of learning style wasn’t fit for some, other students thrived.

UH Manoa student Jenna Bedford takes classes both at Windward Community College and at the UH Manoa.

She said while online classes have their downsides, there are also pros to learning remotely.

“I like having certain classes in person and certain classes online. General classes such as English 100 should be taught online but lab classes should be taught in person,” Bedford said.

She liked being able to dictate when and where she would do her courses, but explained that came at a cost.

“You have to be self-reliant, which caused me to procrastinate sometimes with assignments,” said Bedford.

The added stress from the pandemic caused not only Bedford but other students as well to procrastinate or turn in work that wasn’t up to quality standards.

Desi Poteet, an assistant English professor and a chair for the Department of Language Arts at Windward Community College, said she’s seen firsthand the impact of remote learning on some students.

“I’ve had to adjust my assignments to try to fit with my students’ needs,” she said.

In some of her classes, she created small break-out sessions on Zoom, so students felt more comfortable talking to one another and discussing class materials.

Poteet expressed it has been difficult to form that student-teacher connection through a computer screen.

Now that restrictions are all but gone and more in-person classes are being offered for the upcoming Fall 2022 semester, many students and educators alike are trying to figure out how to move forward — and make up for lost time.

“We are definitely looking forward to offering more in-person classes for the upcoming fall semester while still having some online and hybrid classes to give our students a choice,” said UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl.

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