MNSU students reflect on their online learning experience

With COVID-19 affecting people’s daily lives in myriad ways, Minnesota State University, Mankato students have adapted to learning online since the pandemic hit last spring and pushed professors to transition classes to an online format. 

Professors and teachers across the country have now been forced to find alternative ways for their students to learn as the pandemic hasn’t stopped schools and universities from holding classes. 

Zoom is the avenue many MNSU professors have been using for their teaching outlet. Zoom is an online service that allows video and audio communication. It also allows for the recording of lectures. 

But with this new form of learning also comes some struggles as the physical and social interaction aspect of learning has decreased. 

Jillian Moor, freshman at MNSU who is majoring in Dental Hygiene, said staying motivated in her school work while learning remotely has been a struggle. 

“The biggest challenge I have run into with online learning is staying focused. It’s so tempting to sit on my phone or zone out while on Zoom,” Moor said. “It’s annoying when I have questions for an assignment and I have to set up a Zoom call with my professor instead of just asking face to face.” 

Freshman Megan Rosalie, who is double majoring in criminal justice and French, said she agrees that online learning hasn’t been easy.

“I have found it harder for myself to retain the information I’m being taught while online. I’m more of a hands-on learner so this year has definitely been more challenging,” Rosalie said. 

However, staying motivated academically isn’t the only struggle students have been facing this year.

Junior Julia Bolssen, who is studying psychology and gender women studies, said learning online has impacted her mental health. 

“Going online has made my mental health worse in a lot of different aspects. I liked going to classes and learning from a professor and being stuck behind a computer has made it challenging,” Bolssen said. “I also feel as though going online and away from campus has made it hard to leave my house because I can complete everything online. I miss walking around campus and going to the library with my friends.” 

Freshman Logan Shaffer, who is majoring in automotive engineering, agrees. 

“Since going completely online it has affected my mental health and school just seems overall more challenging. I’m lazier and I feel less productive,” Shaffer said.

While learning online has been a new transition for most, this year’s freshman experienced a very unorthodox first year of college. 

Lexi Kvistad, a freshman majoring in elementary education, said her social life this year is not what she had expected. 

“College this year definitely hasn’t been what I expected but I understand because of COVID the school can’t do as many events,” Kvistad said. “Sometimes the only time I leave my room is to go to the dining center since all my school is online anyways so my social life hasn’t been that busy.” 

Students are not the only ones struggling with this new way of learning. Professors also must be struggling to teach online. 

Freshman finance major Weston Peterson said some of his professors handled the online teaching realm well, while others did not.

“I believe some professors have had a phenomenal system of teaching online and others lacked and struggled. A lot of this year was self taught,” Peterson said. 

Freshman nursing student Breanna Hagen said that, even when professors do well, it’s impossible to fully compensate for not having in-person classes. 

“I feel like I have to teach myself the curriculum and I don’t have good communication with my professors and classmates,” Hagen said. “Professors are doing the best they can, but it doesn’t compare to the learning experience we would get in in person class.” 

Looking toward the future, MNSU hopes to have a more normal academic year next fall as the COVID-19 vaccine is now being distributed in many locations across the country.

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