Last Updated: January 15, 2021, 11:57 pm

Trials, tribulations of COVID-19 fall semester: Students, professors learn from mistakes


Last fall, the university used a hybrid learning approach, which resulted in students rolling out of bed and joining their Zoom classes while still half asleep. Graphic by Emily Wight.

It is 7:50 a.m. and your alarm is beeping loudly. You sluggishly walk into the kitchen to make coffee and oatmeal just to hop back in bed minutes later to enjoy it. You grab your computer and turn it on to your professor lecturing while you’re half awake. That is what being a student in 2020 was like.

It has been almost a year since COVID-19 sent colleges into a frenzy, leaving students and staff across campus still learning to adjust to this “new normal.”

Unlike many universities, Dixie State University wanted its student body on campus. The university used a hybrid learning approach to educate its students safely during a pandemic.

Students and professors were allowed to have limited face-to-face instruction by switching between Zoom and in-person classes.

Emily Isaacson, a sophomore general studies major from Brigham City, is one student who had to readjust to the new learning approach.

Isaacson said, “If I actually sat down, took notes, asked questions, and followed along with the lecture, Zoom could be a good option for me.”

Zoom is an entirely different ball game than in-person instruction. For the first time, students can participate in classes from the comfort of their own beds. It is so easy to get distracted while snuggled up in a blanket and trying hard to not scroll on Instagram while the professor is lecturing.

Isaacson said at the beginning of the semester she played her Zoom classes in the background and did something else in the meantime. She quickly learned that she did not retain the information as well and got easily distracted.

Isaacson said she took account of what she learned when planning her spring schedule and was able to format a schedule full of in-person classes to avoid the hassle of Zooming. If she is required to use Zoom, she will turn on her camera to hold herself accountable during the lecture and not wander off.

The hybrid method was also tough to balance for Ashlyn Allred, a freshman nursing major from Herriman.

Since not all classes were following the same hybrid format, Allred had to frequently run back and forth between in-person and Zoom classes.

“It would get so frustrating trying to rush between campus and back to my dorm to get resituated before my next class started,” Allred said.

Allred said she found out from her fall semester what worked for her. This semester she is making an effort to stay focused on schoolwork and take her classes somewhere other than her room to avoid rushing between classes.

English Professor Stephen Armstrong is teaching all four of his classes the hybrid method again this semester. He said last semester was challenging, but he is adjusting to the new way of teaching.

Armstrong began teaching Zoom classes for a master’s program back in January 2020, two months before the pandemic sent students home.

“The hardest part of teaching in the fall semester for me was manipulating the computer screen and interacting with the students at the same time,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong’s way of teaching is interactive, and he uses a variety of functions on Zoom, but he said he felt like he couldn’t connect with his students at home. A lot of the time, the chat function got overlooked, leaving his students struggling.

Armstrong is using Zoom to his benefit this semester. He became well versed with the technology in the fall and learned what worked and did not work in his teaching.

Armstrong said he learned that having smaller class sizes made it easier to educate his students. He will be able to communicate effectively with less students to look over on Zoom.

Professors across campus had the option to hold their classes entirely in-person this semester. After the fall semester and all its struggles, students will finally be able to choose what learning style worked best for them and stick with it.

Spring semester tips for students:

  • Find a quiet room or space to complete your virtual classes.
  • Schedule a chunk of time between hy-flex classes to avoid rushing.
  • Keep your camera on during lecture to keep yourself accountable.
  • Avoid using your phone during Zoom lectures.
  • If you know you struggle with online classes, attend as many in-person classes as possible.
  • Participate in Zoom classes at your desk, not in your bed.

Spring semester tips for professors:

  • Try to become well versed with Zoom features and functions.
  • Hire a Zoom assistant to help oversee the chat.
  • Teach in a space you are comfortable in.