In August 2022, GIST decided to transition fully to a face-to-face class. Because of the pandemic, many academic institutions shifted to online classes right after the virus began. GIST also implemented a measure to hold classes via ZOOM or other e-learning platforms for more than two years. However, GIST resumed offline classes starting fall of 2022.
Face-to-face classes capture the essence of university life. The buzz of students running from one class to another, the interaction of students with professors in classrooms, and lively discussion among pupils are necessary to get the best experience out of higher education.
Measures and precautions
GIST implemented several measures and passed several regulations at the beginning of the semester to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during offline classes. The lecture classrooms are well-ventilated. A sanitizer and sterilizing wet wipes were also placed in every classroom for students to disinfect their learning spaces.
Even though there was no restriction on the number of students attending the classrooms, the lecture halls assigned to each course were not heavily congested and allowed proper air ventilation, as observed by GISTNEWS.
Concerns and challenges
The primary concern behind resuming offline classes after the pandemic was the spread of coronavirus. The pandemic has altered the structure of higher education. All around the world, academic institutions are experimenting with various instructional approaches to deliver the best education for their students through online, offline, or hybrid learning methods.
Before the aftermath of COVID, students and teachers found communicating and interacting in person easier than on their computer screens. But after more than two years of screen interaction, students have adapted —and now even prefer —on-screen interaction over in-person communication. Therefore, institutions have a role in helping students rebuild their social skills to be comfortable with physical communication again.
In addition, schools should provide restoring routines for students who cannot attend class in real-time, say, because of COVID. GISTNEWS inquired whether professors at GIST are conducting classes online for students who caught the virus and cannot attend classes due to quarantine. We found that only a handful of professors have a hybrid system of education for students to aid them so they will stay caught up. Other professors compensate in several traditional ways, such as one-to-one question-and-answer sessions.
Altogether, the COVID pandemic has forced us to make the teaching-learning process online. As restrictions have eased and humans are more adapted to the virus, making it less deadly than it once was, we found ourselves falling back to the way things were before the virus. The shift to offline class after all this time has been challenging. However, the offline semester at GIST has been going smoothly so far. The professors at GIST are enthusiastic about interacting with their students in person. Students are getting more out of the teaching-learning process as there are fewer distractions, more interactions, and generally higher enthusiasm.
Opinions of GIST students and
COVID-19 and strict social isolation have undoubtedly played a significant role in the education sector with students confined to their computers all day. Hence, this transition to face-to-face classes must surely be a relief for students. However, students who have only known online courses and have never attended offline classes at GIST might have unforeseen issues. GISTNEWS met several students and professors and discussed what it is like switching to an offline class.
Benefits of offline classes
Offline classes are much less distracting than online classes. One sophomore student at GIST said, “[In my opinion,] just being present physically in the classroom with all those people around you, the teacher standing right in front of you and occasionally looking straight at you, makes the probability of zoning out much less likely.”
It is known that students’ attention span is generally around 10 to 15 minutes. If not guided by the constant incentive to keep paying attention in classes, like direct interactions among students or students and professors, distractions come quickly, as observed in online courses.
“I love interaction!” exclaimed Professor Sthiannopako from the Environmental Engineering department, who teaches one of the most crowded classrooms from the courses offered this semester with over 100 students.
The professor explained the value of interaction as it allows students to exchange thoughts on various topics. Moreover, student-led online discussions often encourage excellent learning while producing interesting personal applications of course topics and theories.
It’s no wonder that interaction promotes communication, helping students improve the social skills required to communicate with each other and assert their opinions. Expressing yourself to get the point across and persuade others is essential in all fields of study, but people often underestimate its significance in science and engineering.
GISTNEWS asked two first-year students whether offline education helps them improve communication and social skills. They explained that even though communication is possible through online education, delivering a speech in front of people is considerably different from talking in front of a screen.
Drawbacks of offline classes
Practice-based learning, a crucial element in education, is quite impossible to achieve in online education. There is a saying that a child does not learn to walk by studying; it does so by trying to walk and falling over. Theory-based learning is good for maximizing our awareness regarding a particular subject but practicing it will enable us to apply it in real life. In short, the significance of education lies behind its applicability which is done so by practice. However, some students we interviewed were not entirely thrilled by offline classes.
“I can’t record my lectures anymore,” said one student who wanted to remain anonymous. “So, I struggle with studying and keeping up with my courses.”
Another student added, “It was easier for me to manage my time and be more efficient when classes were online. I could also attend class from any place instead of one classroom for the whole semester.”
“Offline classes in GIST have not really changed. But professors are more open-minded and tech-savvy now than before the pandemic,” Ryu HyeonSeok, a senior GIST student, said while comparing current offline classes to pre-pandemic times. This shows that online education has taught us some perks we can implement to improve education.
Students’ preference on whether they like online or offline classes ultimately depends on what type of student they are and which class suits them most. Online classes offer convenience and flexibility, while traditional classrooms provide personal interaction with professors and classmates. However, this shift is not just about the convenience of an in-person class or the ability to physically attend a class. It is done to provide students with hands-on learning opportunities to create a learning environment where students can thrive in their studies.