Penn State has decided to return to in-person instruction this week after campaigning to ensure every student returning to campus to live and work has received a coronavirus test.
Today marks my first mixed-mode instruction class, meaning I will be attending the class in person today and then virtually on Thursdays.
While this will definitely take some adjusting and getting used to, I welcome the chance to return to the classroom, because I haven’t really been on campus since before Thanksgiving break last fall.
As a senior, this year was definitely the furthest thing from normal I have ever experienced, and I feel as disrupted as the class of 2020 seniors felt in the spring.
However, with a chance to finally return to two of my classes in person, I am excited to feel a little more normal for the remainder of the semester.
While one of my professors gave us the option to avoid the in-person class if we feel uncomfortable or are feeling sick (as it will be held on Zoom as well), I plan to disregard this notion as a way to break up the monotony of the day, which is largely spent at my desk.
This is why I am encouraging all students who are willing and able to return to their in-person instruction without a feeling of dread, but to embrace it as a chance to learn in a traditional classroom setting, which is something we have not done in months.
There are so many ways that attending a class in person can be largely beneficial, especially when we have been so accustomed to learning over video this past year.
For one thing, it is much easier to raise your hand in class to ask a question and be recognized instantly, instead of using the little hand in the right corner of your video on Zoom.
It is always so much easier to visualize concepts and understand terminology when you are not distracted by the other tabs open on your computer.
This is also a great way to get some human interaction that isn’t over a video stream.
While breakout rooms and discussion boards are great for measuring understanding of concepts, there isn’t often a chance for students to just talk in a normal setting.
Another way I feel in-person learning can be helpful this semester is in avoiding Zoom fatigue.
I am also extremely excited to walk on campus again and across Old Main Lawn or even Pattee Mall to my classes.
The fresh air and, quite frankly, the campus scenery will be much appreciated after spending most of my time in my apartment this past month.
Returning to class feels like a great way to wrap up my time as a Penn State student, and I hope other students take the opportunity to get back in the classroom and learn from the professors who are so excited to stand in front of the class once again.