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Onward Debates: Which Penn State Class Delivery Ranks Supreme?

It’s safe to say Penn State classes don’t look quite like they used to this semester.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing is (understandably) all the rage. Unfortuantely, that means real-deal in-person instruction is tough to come by.

Instead, Penn State opted to transition the majority of its courses to a few class formats, each with their own quirks and ramifications. They include a few different remote learning options, some mixed-mode methods, and even hands-off instruction.

Now a month into the semester, our staffers have some strong feelings about Penn State’s most effective course delivery method. This begs the question…which is the best?

Frankie Marzano: Remote Synchronous

I think that synchronous classes are the best way to go for remote instruction. One of the nice things about having in person classes was that every day was structured, and everyday had a set schedule.

With asynchronous classes, there is no structure throughout the day. It’s so easy to forget about lectures and fall far behind. It can be a challenge for other students who live in different time zones or have other time commitments to attend live lectures, but prior arrangements can be made with a professor to get a recorded version of the lecture. Watching a pre-recorded lecture sometimes takes longer than a live lecture. With pausing and getting distracted easily, a 50-minute lecture can easily turn into an hour and a half or more.

There is a reason why many psychology experts suggest students enroll in synchronous classes. It’s the way to go.

Matt DiSanto: Remote Asynchronous

Remote asynchronous instruction is every deadbeat student’s dream…and it’s the absolute best. There’s nothing I love more than putting off homework all week long until eventually hunkering down at 10 p.m. after Sunday Night Football to figure out what the hell I should’ve been learning.

I’m obviously being a bit dramatic, but being able to dictate how and when you learn through an asynchronous class is a really powerful tool for any busy college student. It’s nice knowing you can put that pesky assignment off for another day, as long as it’s in by your weekly deadline.

A lack of meeting, whether that be through Zoom or in person, is also helpful. More often than not, the majority of what you’re learning takes place when you’re staring at your textbook, not when your professor is trying to figure out if he successfully shared his screen for the 100th time.

You know what they say: If you want something done right, do it yourself.

Alysa Rubin: ‘Flipped Classroom’

Say what you want, but flipped classes have come in handy, especially when you aren’t able to meet in person.

Although flipped classes aren’t the most popular class choice, I haven’t had many problems while taking one. I’ve found it extremely convenient that we’re able to teach ourselves material at our own pace outside of our class meeting times. When we do have class time, we don’t waste time reviewing the simple stuff and can get right into applying what we taught ourselves. Teaching ourselves ahead of time also lessens the time we have to spend on Zoom, which is a huge plus as well.

A flipped class, unlike an asynchronous class, also meets in some format, whether it be online or in person. I find that helpful because I can teach myself the material at my own pace but still keep myself on track because there’s a deadline to learn the material by, which holds the procrastination at bay…sort of.

Obviously, teaching yourself material has its drawbacks, and I wouldn’t recommend a flipped class to anyone who doesn’t think they have the discipline for it. However, being able to control the pace at which you learn is pretty awesome, especially when you’re stuck on your computer all day.

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Posts from the all-student staff of Onward State.

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