BYU-Idaho continues to create educated scholars and future professionals during these uncertain times by developing five different course types.
The five different course types BYU-Idaho developed to accommodate students this semester are face-to-face, blended, flexible, remote, and online. Each course type offers multiple ways to learn and tests students’ skills.
Face-to-face classes are different from the on-campus courses in the past. To fight the spread of COVID-19, desks are spaced six feet apart, face coverings are required, and class sizes are decreased.
Making these adjustments have been very beneficial for students, especially those that learn with hands-on assignments for their major.
“As a horticulture major, it is better to be in person because I need experience being hands on with plants. This semester I have been working in the BYU-Idaho gardens,” Sabrina Meza said.
Although on-campus classes are not the same as before the pandemic, students are very thankful for the option to listen to lectures and work in teams with other students.
“I appreciate the fact that there are fewer people on campus, and the effort BYU-Idaho is making to protect the students from COVID-19,” Meza said.
The flexible course style allows students the choice to gather in person, within the constraints of physical distancing and safety protocols, or remotely. The ability to attend class in person or remotely has changed the dynamic in the classroom.
BYU-Idaho faculty have taken extra time to prepare to teach these courses—many meeting together multiple times to discuss thoughts, tools, and ideas on how they were going to create this type of course.
The BYU-Idaho I.T. Department has also helped the faculty install cameras for students attending virtually. Cameras facing the chalkboard have helped teachers be able to easily teach students on campus and over Zoom at the same time.
“Once we got the cameras installed, I was able to go back to writing on the chalkboard. This has made teaching easier for me and has made a big difference for me this semester,” said Mathematics Faculty Member Curtis Martin.
The environment of flexible courses is different because instructors and students are communicating with each other both in person and online.
“I feel like I have learned how to better communicate, because in this class I have needed to learn how to be more concise with my words. Many times, I need to speak in a way that can be easily understood by someone in class with me or over Zoom,” said physics major Dallin Fisher.
Fisher says the flexible course type is a blessing to students who may have been exposed to or contracted COVID-19 this semester.
“They give students who are not able to attend in person the ability to attend class. If you are sick or out of town, you will still be able to join the class and stay caught up,” Fisher said.
Blended courses have both on-campus and online instruction. These courses allow students to work hands-on or work in groups when needed while maintaining a safe distance.
This class style is perfect for students who participate in labs, and it has increased the students’ ability to learn the course material.
“It is nice for students to be able to enjoy the increased flexibility of an online class while still being to go into the lab once a week to ask the professor questions in person,” said biomedical science major David Sheffield.
This course style successfully integrates online and face-to-face classes while also teaching students and teachers new skills. Teachers have discovered the various resources within I-Learn as they have adjusted to a remote learning curriculum.
One challenge for students enrolled in a blended course is navigating between online and in-class learning and assignments each week. With some assignments due online and others needing to be physically turned in, students have had to learn skills not identified in the class syllabus.
“I feel like I have learned more about how to use technology,” Shaffield stated. “I have found so many new tools to help me succeed.”
Virtual remote classes are taught entirely live over Zoom on the days and times listed in students’ class schedules.
Attending live class entirely online has created many creative improvements to the classroom, but it has also introduced some challenges.
“It seems easier to learn but harder to stay motivated,” said biology major Juliette McCartney.
The social aspect of this class type has been challenging for some students, but the use of breakout rooms during class increases interaction between students and can help with this challenge.
Another benefit of virtual remote learning is the ability for students to participate even if they may be sick. If teachers choose to record their class, students also have the opportunity to review lectures at another time.
“I love that we’ve found a way for students to attend classes even in a pandemic. Several of my students have had to quarantine, but that hasn’t stopped our ability to learn together,” said communication faculty member Laurene Jackson.
BYU-Idaho has offered online courses for over a decade now. Taught entirely online, with digital course material such as e-books, articles, and recorded lectures, many of these courses have already been through multiple redevelopments.
Online course options give students increased flexibility. These classes are great options for parents with kids at home, students that work full-time, and anyone else with a hectic schedule.
“Online classes allow me to complete my assignments whenever I want, and this course style gives me the ability to build my class schedule to fit my life,” said communications major Caitlyn Knudsen.
Each of these five course types will also be offered for the Winter 2021 Semester.