Hybrid classes present new challenges to remote students
It is indeed a blessing for many students who finally find their way back to campus after a year-long confusion and struggle. But for many of the virtual learners, their remote journey continues and transforms as the hybrid classrooms on campus are set up.
“Being hybrid really makes me wanna go back on campus,” said Gabriel Hao, a freshman from Beijing. “I just see them interact with each other and I really want to go back.” The hybrid environment and a change in schedule makes it really hard for international students to have class and engage with other students. “During the rock band class, I can’t participate because it’s too early in China to play music,” said another freshman, Isabella Zuo. Some students decided to be asynchronous in some of the classes, due to the tech issues of hybrid classes: “I just can’t hear the students and the teachers, the quality of the microphone is really bad,” said Vivian Kou from the class of 2024.
Being a remote student could also be an amusing experience. “I only get to see the top of the student’s head,” commented Sophia Yin. “I am looking at them from God's perspective!” As the only remote student in her class, Yin was positive about her experience as the “odd one out.” Yin does not mind that her Zoom image is often projected on the screen. “I think it will be cool that my head will be bigger than all of the other students,” Yin said.
The teachers also put in effort to make the remote students feel comfortable in the classroom and encourage them to answer questions. “I really appreciate the teachers, because during discussions they always ask us for our own opinions,” said Kou, “I don’t feel that left out anymore.” “The teachers will send me and other remote students into the breakout room so we can talk to one another,” said Zuo, “I was able to make some new friends.”
Being hybrid also makes the teacher’s job difficult: “The biggest challenge for teachers is remembering that the remote students Zooming into class are still there! We get involved in class discussion and get swept away by the familiar routine.” says Mr.Hinckley, “ We have to feel our way to a comfortable and effective way of living in the mixed 3D and virtual world we’re living in.”
While some students chose to attend as many classes as possible, others chose to be entirely asynchronous. “I decided to go entirely asynchronous after school released the hybrid instruction,” said Junior Yilin Cai. “Because I suspect that I will not not be able to blend in with some other students, I chose to be entirely asynchronous, which means that I will have a healthier time schedule than my other friends who are doing remote.” Her time schedule seems far more healthy than the other international students: “I wake up at eight in the morning, and I will first watch some recordings, then do my homework.” Cai also voiced her concerns upon the current freshmen: “We as juniors can go entirely asynchronous because we are more familiar with the teachers and the environment, but the freshmen are not familiar with the teachers, so they have to be synchronous. I think they might not feel comfortable in the class too, since they don’t know each other and they don’t know the teachers. I suspect that there will be many zoom awkward silences taking place during zoom sessions too.”