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Students and experts reflect on online learning

September 28, 2023

For many students and professors, online learning has become a normal part of their schedule. However, some have different opinions about how learning asynchronously best fits into their lives. 

Educational Technology and Educational Psychology Professor Cary Roseth said that when he started at MSU 17 years ago he did not prefer teaching online or asynchronously, but those feelings have shifted.

“Things have changed over time and where I've come to is my real preference at this point is more of a hybrid approach,” Roseth said.

He said that hybrid learning involves asynchronous “working weeks” with opportunities for outside help and in-person classes meeting once a month

“At least for what I teach, I found that that kind of rhythm of coming together, then separating and working and being available for extra help as people need it, has been a really good way to sort of balance the needs (of students),” Roseth said.

Computer science preference freshman Chloe Pryber said she doesn’t mind online or hybrid classes, but struggles when she needs extra help

“I think it's nice that I don't have to go meet up with the class,” Pryber said. “I wish we kind of did though because when you start to struggle, it's like, okay, now you’ve got to reach out, you’ve got to find the help, you’ve got to go to office hours.”

Environmental studies and sustainability senior Truman Forbes said this is his first year at MSU without any online classes. He said that while he doesn’t mind them for general education classes, he prefers learning in person for higher level courses. 

“My chem and calc classes my freshman year I was like, thank God this is asynchronous,” Forbes said.

Roseth said often he sees online asynchronous sections fill up the fastest, and while they give more flexibility for students’ schedules, they come with their own set of challenges.

“I always think with asynchrony you have to not only choose to get to work on your course stuff, but you often have to choose not to do something else,” Roseth said. “So it's like a double motivational challenge — like my friends are going out, I have to choose not to do that, and I have to get to work on this.”

Supply chain freshman Alexandra Reck said it all comes down to time management.

“If you can manage your time well I feel like it allows you to have a little bit more freedom, but a drawback is if you cannot manage your time, it’s probably not the best idea and you can’t talk to the professor in person,” Reck said.

Roseth said that there’s something special about having a professor in the room who’s excited about what they’re teaching and is easily accessible to students

“That's really this magical thing that happens when you go to college and you just can't replace that in an asynchronous environment.”

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