Algonquin College students will not be heading back to in-person classes for the remainder of the semester, according to an email from president of the college Claude Brulé.
Students and faculty were sent an email on Friday, Jan.28, announcing the decision to keep most classes in a hybrid learning model and scrapping the plan to have most students return to campus on March 7.
The email said some courses which have a greater need for on-campus instruction will move to in-person after reading week. Students were informed on Feb. 4 about the plan for their program’s specific delivery model.
The college partly based this decision on a one-question survey sent to students on Jan. 24. The question read, “If public health guidelines allow for it, after March 7th, how would you prefer to continue your learning:”
The college offered four options in the survey. The first option was to have on-campus classes exclusively. The second was to have a hybrid model of on-campus and virtual classes. The third option was to have virtual classes. The fourth was an option for those without a preference.
The results of the poll were posted with the Friday announcement and it showed the majority of students preferred to have virtual classes, with 63 per cent voting for that option. The hybrid model received the next highest number of votes with 20 per cent, followed by on-campus with 15 per cent and no preference with two per cent.
A total of 11,872 students participated in the survey which is approximately 59 per cent of the student body.
Students’ reaction to the news has been mixed. Some students were disappointed they are not getting the “college experience” they had imagined, while others are happy with the practicality of hybrid learning.
“If I don’t have to be here, I don’t want to be here,” said Filsan Mohamed.
Mohamed, who is in the practical nursing program, said she loves online learning and that the model has saved her money since she does not have to commute to school as often.
Mohamed’s classmate Paria Payandeh was not as thrilled with the decision. Payandeh is an international student from Iran and had recently moved within Ottawa to be closer to campus. The move is costing her an additional $700 a month. Payandeh believes labs should be done in-person.
Both Mohamed and Payandeh agreed it has been hard to meet their classmates and other students with the current learning format.
Ahmed Nuru has no in-person classes and was on campus for just the second time since being enrolled in September 2020. The business accounting student said, “It wasn’t the best experience but it has its pros and cons.”
Nuru said doing class from bed was the pro, and the con was that he did not get to experience the campus which he describes as “beautiful.”
Many students were fully supportive of the decision to continue hybrid learning. Jordan Lemke is a Level 2 student in the computer systems technician program and is very content with the way his program is delivered. Lemke has a lengthy daily commute to come to campus from Orleans. He has just one lab a week on campus but that does not bother him.
“I still feel like I am getting my money’s worth completely.” Lemke said.
Many students including Lemke said long commutes across the city were a barrier for them, and having less classes on campus was beneficial.
“The commute is definitely the hardest part,” said Lemke.