The future of education will be a cyborg

How the pandemic permanently changed the course of education forever

Jerrald McMillon / Times Staff
Student Koffi Amouzou in the Cesar E. Chavez Library near the Student Center at SJCC.

During the pandemic, most colleges and universities had to adapt to using online courses for an entire school year, if not longer. This was a big shift for many students, professors, instructors and staff at San Jose City College, and for some it was their first experience with learning and teaching online. Students and educators say they have a new perspective now that everyone is getting back to in-person learning.

Students and educators on-campus said although online classes gave them a chance to have more flexibility in their schedules, after some time they felt disconnected from the campus community, including access to valuable resources. Instead, they said in-person learning gave them the opportunity to engage with their community and communicate on a higher level. The computer screen can only go so far.

Also, anything put online is easily saved. Lectures, documents and resources can all be archived easily online and used by anyone who needs them. Online still isn’t perfect, with the sudden shift during the pandemic many classes had to make compromises in the quality of their courses.

Students like Jamal Hall and Koffi Amouzou said they prefer in-person classes. Hall said he most enjoys having access to his professors and sharing the same environment with fellow students.

“Being in-person in the classroom, all five or six of us, we can get the same answers at the same time and we don’t have to rely just on email,” said Hall, a kinesiology major.

Hall is taking both online and in-person classes this semester and said he is leaning more towards preferring in-person learning.

Amouzou agreed with Hall, and said in-person classes make it easier for him to ask questions and get immediate answers.

“Learning is supposed to be in-person, a way where someone is teaching you,” said Amouzou, 26, who is studying medicine.

Online classes might be more relaxed, he said, but it’s also easier for students to cheat.

But Professor Carol Easter said she likes some of the benefits online teaching has to offer.

“I record my lectures so people can go back and take a look at them,” said Easter, who teaches art and digital media. “But being on-campus allows for me to be able to connect better with students.”

Additional benefits of online education include students being able to access school records and other documents throughout the semester. Students are also able to track their grades directly from their phones and view their progress in real-time.

Regardless of whether in-person lecturing returns full-time, the pandemic left a permanent change in the academic world and there won’t be a complete return to how it was before.