Krystal Schmidt is a senior human life science major, from Chrisney, Indiana. She is taking a full schedule this semester, 13 credit hours, including cell biology lab and lecture, organic chemistry lab and lecture, exercise physiology and her senior capstone.
Schmidt, like a majority of IU East students, has previously taken classes online.
"I like the flexibility of online courses as I generally have a very busy schedule," Schmidt said.
Flexibility is valuable for Schmidt. She is a member of the IU East women's tennis team, the Student Government Association (SGA) and Circle K. She is a student worker - and is currently working online - as a Supplemental Instruction Leader (SI Leader), for the Communication Center and the Honors Program.
Schmidt said so far going all-online for the remainder of the semester has been a positive experience.
"Most professors have adjusted very well to the sudden change and have been able to conduct online classes very effectively," Schmidt said. "My organic chemistry professor went outside her comfort zone to record video lectures, and I am very thankful for that. For the lab portion of that course they have found a way to incorporate relevant virtual labs. My cell biology with Parul Khurana (associate professor of biology) was a very easy transition. She already had some video lectures recorded, and we still meet live in Zoom so we can all ask questions. Overall I think IU East has responded very well to the pandemic and I think all of the professors are doing their best to ensure our education is not hindered."
Cole Fennimore is from Liberty, Indiana. The junior general studies major is taking 12 credit hours this semester. He too has taken online classes while at IU East, and this semester two of the four classes he is enrolled in were already online.
While he is familiar with online classes, he understands why some students may prefer classes face-to-face. He relates to students who prefer on-campus classes because he's been there too. "Getting into the groove of online classes is something you don't fall into, at least not in my experience," Fennimore said.
This semester Fennimore is holding himself to the same standard by putting in the same effort and time for online classes as he would for on-campus classes.
The challenge for Fennimore is to keep to a similar schedule to avoid procrastination. He said Zoom helps to keep the experience similar to face-to-face classes. Zoom, he said, has worked well through the transition and he felt there was an easy learning curve with the video conferencing platform. While his overall experience has gone well, there are some classes that the move to use the platform hasn't matched up as well.
"For one of my classes it is only audio Zoom," Fennimore said. It would help, he said, if every instructor could have a webcam to assure they were visible during Zoom meetings, helping it to feel more like an actual class experience. The positive to being all-online for the rest of the semester is that Fennimore feels like he will have more time to focus on his classes while at home.
"I feel like I'll still be able to get the most out of this semester because of the work my instructors have done to keep things smooth sailing," Fennimore said.
Gustavo Ferrari is a freshman double-majoring in criminal justice and psychology. A native of Alberta, Canada, Ferrari is continuing to live in Richmond as he finishes the spring semester online. Ferrari is also a student-athlete as a member of the men's soccer team.
As an on-campus freshman, none of his 15 credit hours this semester would have been completed online. His classes were all face-to-face.
"I previously took online classes in high school, so I'm kind of used to it," Ferrari said. "So far it's been really good."
Ferrari lives off campus with other students. He said the obstacle for him is not to "get lazy" while he's at home and to make sure he does his homework. There are still study groups or help from friends to peer edit papers or help understand homework assignments. And yes, students are making sure that they are social distancing while continuing to help each other, he assured.
"We sometimes help each other with our courses. I don't like teaching myself so much, so that is the hardest part for me," Ferrari said.
Merissa Ross of Centerville, Indiana, is a full-time student who also works. The senior human life science major is familiar with online courses, which provide the opportunity to complete multiple classes while working around her busy work schedule and student involvement. Three of her four classes this semester were already online.
Ross said her experience going all-online has been hectic. This is, in part, due to her position as the president of the SGA. She said the SGA is organizing ways to give back to students by providing funding, completing applications and the conducting online elections for next year's SGA officers. She is also a member of the Pre-professionals Club, Tri-Beta, and she worked for the science lab as a laboratory technician, the Athletic Department, and for the Office of External Affairs.
As far as classes, one of her classes has been a struggle. She said that not all faculty communicate the same way through online tools which can sometimes make things difficult.
While balancing her role with SGA and getting familiar with the courses online - including her laboratory classes - she said she is figuring out Zoom and how to communicate with faculty through online options.
While the change has provided challenges, there has also been a benefit for Ross.
"A positive that I have had includes having more time for my own health. My mental health has improved so much over the last month due to not being as busy, being able to actually fix meals and eating better, as well as actually having the time to get outside and exercise," Ross said. "I am so sad that this has happened, but at the same time, it has helped my health."
Ian Dillman is at his home in Bedford, Indiana. While he is back home with his family, he does miss his friends, classmates, in-person meetings at the Writing Center, and his "wacky professors." While at IU East, he is active on campus with SGA, Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) and the Howl Crowd.
"When I'm at school I am two and a half hours away from home," Dillman said. "I'm happy to be back, I just wish it was under different circumstances."
Dillman is taking 15 credit hours this spring, plus he is an SI Leader for two classes. The sophomore secondary education major is completing concentrations in history and political science. He plays for the men's tennis team.
His first experience for online classes at IU East was last summer, so he could get enough credit hours to be classified as a sophomore.
With five courses this semester - one already online, plus one of the SI sessions he leads - transitioning four classes and the other SI session to online has been a challenge. While adjustments were made to the syllabi for his classes, he said he has a heavy workload with regular weekly assignments, plus working on essays and papers for finals coming up at the end of April.
Dillman is also working.
"It is hard to find time for all of my classes," he said. "I recently got a job as a checklist clerk at a grocery store. I go around and shop for people. I still had to get a paycheck to help pay for rent. Time management is a major challenge right now for me. It does not help that I have four essays to write before finals week."
Kelsea Joseph is from Middletown, Ohio, and she is back home completing her coursework. She is a junior majoring in general studies with a minor in coaching. She has five classes this semester and is familiar with online classes.
"Although it's sometimes more work, I enjoy working at my own pace and basically getting to create my own schedule that works best for me," Joseph said. "My experience hasn't been much of a change other than moving back home. Four out of my five classes were already online so there wasn't that much of a transition for me and I was already familiar with how online classes work."
While she gave up her apartment and had to suspend playing soccer for the time being, she is adjusting.
At IU East she is a member of the women's soccer team and Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).
The main positive that I draw from all-online courses is flexibility. For the most part, I get to space out my classes and homework how I want to which allows me to have my own schedule.
Kate Boggs is also from Liberty. She is a sophomore majoring in political science. She too is taking 15 credits hours, five classes, and is familiar with online classes. With her hometown a half-hour away, online classes provide convenience for Boggs and cuts down weekly trips to campus.
The move to all-online has gone well for Boggs.
"If I am honest, it hasn't been too bad," Boggs said. "With having three of my classes this semester online, I didn't have too much trouble when things had to be adjusted. There have been some little issues, but nothing major! It is nice to have things online so that we all can finish out the year as best as we can, but I do miss seeing people and talking with professors face-to-face."
Boggs relates to Fennimore and Ferrari in the need for a regular schedule to avoid procrastination. She worried that her classes would continue without her over the extended spring break. Online classes come with a level of uncertainty for her, and she is working through her stress and anxiety that comes with it.
"Through all of this, the biggest thing I have learned is that right now everyone is confused and I'm not any different than anyone else right now," Boggs said. "We are all in this same boat together and we are all going to make it through!"
Even though there is a convenience for online classes, Boggs now misses her drive to campus and her face-to-face classes for the interaction it provides with classmates and faculty. She is a member of the Animals and Earth Club and the Geek Culture Club. She will be a member of SGA next semester.
Boggs also misses the drive to campus. One of the benefits, however, is that she has free time in her schedule.
"If I take the time and really work on everything for my classes I can sometimes make some time to do things while being quarantined at home," Boggs said. "I have been able to salvage some time to learn new skills and think deeper about what I am learning. I have picked up some interesting skills like learning Viking runes so I could help my father translate a cool carving he found online to practical skills like sewing face masks on my own and various things. With all-online classes, you get a chance to take what you are learning and think deeply about it, but then also have the time to learn things about yourself by picking up a new skill or doing something new."