John Jay Adapts to Distance Learning as COVID-19 Fears Grow

Shazat Shawan, Writer

Distance learning was adopted by CUNY as a precaution to the COVID -19. Students and Faculty wonder if the model is feasible to replace in-person classes.

According to Judith Cahn, the Director of John Jay Online Education, distance learning and fully online courses are poles apart.

In online courses, professors cannot ask students to participate in web conferences at certain times, because the point of an online course is flexibility. In the distance learning model, students are encouraged to participate in web conference sessions at the time of their original scheduled classes.

Alicia Sanchez, a sophomore majoring in Political Science, expressed discomfort with distance learning. She believes it won’t have the feeling of a class. 

“It will kill the vibe of being in a classroom not being able to see people’s expressions, hearing their opinions and just feel connected to my peers and professors,” said Sanchez.

In order for distance learning to work students need access to a personal device with high-speed internet. According to a report by the New York City Comptroller’s office, 27% of NYC households lack broadband Internet at home and 17% do not have a computer at home. 

Andrew Berezhansky, Junior Representative of Student Council, said that the college is currently loaning a limited number of laptops to students in need. Students are to contact the Department of Information Technology at [email protected] Campus computers are equipped with certain programs that are necessary for students to successfully complete their courses. 

Erin Thompson, an Associate Professor of Art Crime said that the college reached out to Adobe to get free student licenses until May 31st for students who need it for their classes.

“They’re getting free student licenses for the Adobe Creative Suite for the semester, so they can complete their digital photography, Photoshop, etc. classes at home, so again, that’s a tiny thing, but important,” said Thompson.

Helen Keier, the Associate Director for Learning Management Systems, has instructed faculty to be sensitive to students with lack of access to a personal computer and adequate internet service. She encouraged students to communicate with their professors about any of these issues.

Keier said that her office is working with faculty who are not tech-savvy. The college hosted multiple online web tutorials to get the professors ready. There are tutorials for both students and professors on how to make the best use of Blackboard.

According to Keier, Blackboard will be able to handle the swarm of students to its website all at once. She also said that the website is universal accessibility compliant.

To alleviate students without internet access, Spectrum and Optimum, internet service providers in the tristate announced that they will offer free internet service for students. Any students in need should call 844-488-8395 for Spectrum and 866-200-9522 for Optimum.

Professor Thompson has advice for students who are concerned about this new transition. “Prioritize your own health and wellness first and so take the next week or so to get your life together and then start to plan for the rest of the semester.”