About 43 students reserved a spot during a virtual town hall with JJC President Judy Mitchell on Sept. 14 to express their concerns about distance education during the pandemic.
The town hall gave students one hour to speak directly to Mitchell and Communications Director Kelly Rohder-Tonelli. Students filed into the virtual “Coffee and Conversation with the Prez” to voice what they were experiencing while taking online classes, and they did not hold back.
One student, Tine Good, said she was struggling with receiving the help that she needed for a class and ended up having to drop, losing a lot of money.
“I was just frustrated because I just lost $449 again,” Good said.
Another student was disappointed that a face-to-face lab was not included in a class.
“When I registered for classes it said some labs will still be held,” Kenlen Morse said. “I assumed that would include the cadaver for Human Anatomy and Physiology. I was excited.”
Only later did she find out that her class did not include the presumed lab.
Another student was frustrated with an English class. “My English class’s first assignment is an essay, and that really stresses me out,” Courtney Mason said.
Mitchell said she welcomed the student input.
“Comments were shared by most students, which are always good to hear, regardless of the topic,” Mitchell said. “I also enjoy having the opportunity to provide current information about campus operations.”
Other students said they were having a hard time contacting their instructors. They were also having a hard time with technology. Ayomide Ashaolu and Jonathan Gosney both brought up similar concerns.
“Is there a better way to get in contact with teachers other than email? I would rather get more direct contact,” Gosney asked.
Having internet malfunctions was a topic frequently talked about. One student explained how her computer froze during a test, and when she was able to bring back the connection, there were only five minutes left. Mitchell acknowledged the concern and informed everyone that computer labs and testing centers are still open.
But the meeting was not just used to vent frustrations. Students also discussed ways to help their classmates. Ian Wilkinson suggested a strategy that he used in response to a student who felt overwhelmed by a homework assignment.
“Reach[ed] out to my fellow peers in my courses and asked if they wanted to join a Teams call sometime. Now, I have three other kids in my courses that I go on calls with to help each other.”
Erin Petty suggested the “Pomodoro” method of studying which involves 25 minutes of intensive studying followed by a five-minute break. The cycle continues until the studying is complete.
“Research has shown that during that free time, your subconscious will still be processing the information you were studying,” Wilkinson said.
Before the open forum ended, Rohder-Tonelli made sure that everyone left with all of the information they would need to prevent recurring problems. Resources include the Student IT Support phone number and email, the Student Emergency Fund email, and the emails of RohderTonelli herself and Mitchell.
“Positive comments are always welcomed, and those sharing concerns, [they] know that I will take them back to my team in hopes to address them in a timely manner,” Mitchell said.
The next Coffee and Conversation will be held Monday, Oct. 26 from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m