As the spring semester comes to an end, University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu faculty and students reflect on how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed their teaching and learning experiences.
“I was very grateful that my professors were very supportive during the switch to remote learning,” said Chase Yamauchi. “Even the professors who were already teaching online classes were gracious and understanding during this time.”
He was surprised how drastic the changes were to the school as a whole.
“Since I plan to graduate this spring, it was a bit of a shock that my last semester, as well as my graduation, would not go at all as I would have expected,” said Yamauchi, a general creative media major. “At first, I was honestly disappointed that, after four years, my college experience would be ending with a sizzle instead of a bang.”
However, he added, “The only way we can fight this pandemic is by taking action to contain it, so I am glad that we switched to online classes, for the sake of everyone’s health and safety.”
Faculty supporting each other
“I was sad, to be honest, about the switch to remote learning,” said Lynette Williamson, assistant professor with the mathematics, natural and health sciences division. “I was really enjoying the face-to-face class time and discussions this semester. Of course, I understand the reasoning for this switch and want all of us to be safe and healthy.”
The transition to an online format was not difficult for Williamson because of many years of experience teaching online. But she made sure to help her fellow faculty members, especially those in her division, by providing a “tip document” as a resource to help in the transition from face-to-face to online courses.
Among the faculty members whom Williamson helped with the transition was Lelemia Irvine, assistant professor of physics.
“Even though I don’t like the reason because it’s a sad situation, it forced me and pushed me to learn something new,” Irvine said. “And I was really excited about that and to try to provide a quality service to our haumana (students) so that they can be the best that they can, despite this unprecedented time.”
Events go virtual
Events were canceled or moved to an online format, including the Student Research and Creative Works Symposium on April 21, an important event for many students. Symposium faculty decided to go with a virtual format for the first time, to allow students to present their research from home, via Zoom.
“It was a pleasant surprise to see registration totals at 65 people the day before the symposium and then to see final counts for the virtual symposium totaling 100 people exactly,” said Camonia Graham-Tutt, assistant professor of community health. “It was utterly amazing to have between 18 and 30 people in each of the four symposium sessions.”
Need to stick together
Cassie Hardin, an information security and assurance major, said the “sudden and unexpected” switch to online-only classes at first didn’t come without issues for her.
“For example, it took me a while to learn how to use online programs such as Zoom comfortably since these programs were so new to me as a first-year student,” Hardin said.
Hardin also serves as the freshman senator of the Associated Students of UH West Oʻahu.
“I learned that even though we must take this crisis seriously, we are not going through this crisis alone because at the end of the day, we are all struggling together,” she said. “It may take a long time for things to recover back to normal, but we always need to stick together no matter what happens.”
—By Zenaida S. Arvman