Students at Allan Hancock College prepare for a semester of distance learning

Posted at 8:16 AM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-18 11:16:04-04

It's back to school for Allan Hancock College. Monday was the start of the Fall semester and out of the 1,280 classes offered, only four percent of classes are safely being held on campus.

Monday morning, Nichole Dechaine, an assistant professor of music at Hancock, was holding her first class of the semester on Zoom. Dechaine says when it comes to distance learning, communication is key.

"I just try to communicate with the students in as many ways as possible because you know they have different technology at home," Dechaine said. "Some are accessing the class on their phones until we can get them a computer or they're sharing the internet and it's slow."

Anthony Salazar and Casey Ackerman, both enrolled in Dechaine's class Monday, say distance learning has its challenges.

"It was kind of a learning process last semester but this semester should be a little bit better because now I'm more prepared," Salazar said.

"Switching to just online, like I said, a lot of distractions, can't really focus that well, especially on computers you can see text messages pop up." Ackerman said.

Although students are learning primarily online, Dechaine says classes are still meeting at a set time, just as they would if they were meeting in person.

"I send out a Zoom invite and the students all come to that class," Dechaine said.

Alexx Asencio was also in Dechaine's Zoom class Monday and shared how she's working to stay on track this semester.

"Definitely this year I have a schedule set, I put away my phone usually unless it's like important cause I am on my phone a lot and I have a little study area that I set up that's clean and organized," Asencio said.

Cuesta College also started by Monday. The college is also holding a majority of its classes online, but school officials say, of the 1,200 classes offered, nine percent will have an on-campus component since they are considered "difficult to convert," such as science labs.