Red Deer College’s decision to only deliver online courses in the fall may push some students to take a break from classes, says the president the Red Deer College Student Association.
On Friday, RDC announced all its fall semester programs and courses will only be offered online, even if COVID-19 restrictions are lifted before classes begin.
The decision was made as a result of the uncertainty created by the pandemic, and to allow students to plan and faculty to prepare for the fall, says the school.
Brittany Lausen said a lot of post-secondary students struggled with online learning this spring.
“I think students are really going to be considering if they want to take a gap year, or take a gap semester, because a lot of students can’t sacrifice their grades or their GPA. I know I had a lot of students express concern about how much they saw their grades drop in this transition to online learning,” Lausen said.
“It’s not for everyone. A lot of students have struggled immensely, which is really hard, because students are so passionate about their education. It’s so important to them. This is their future careers.”
She said some students enjoy the freedom of online classes, but it requires a lot of self-discipline, and at times, upgrading computers and internet access.
If students also have children at home participating in online learning, Wi-Fi systems can really slow down.
“If your instructor is trying to do a virtual lecture and you’re missing every other word because it’s glitching, it makes it really hard to obtain information.”
She said thankfully, instructors recorded and posted their lectures.
RDC said in a statement Friday that faculty are still looking at how to accommodate classes with labs, practical and clinical experiences, and industry-related training.
“By making this decision now, Red Deer College instructors and staff can work proactively to best serve students,” said the RDC press release.
Students can register for fall courses starting June 9.
Lausen said as far as she knows, RDC is the first school to restrict courses to the online format. Universities in Lethbridge and Edmonton have developed options depending on what kind of health restrictions are in place.
She said online learning was sprung on students in March when the pandemic struck, and making the decision to go strictly online actually lets RDC students know what to expect.
“I think it was a good move on behalf of the institution. It was a tough decision. It wasn’t the ideal decision for anybody. Everyone is going to have to make do and do the best they can.
“I can see a lot of other institutions seriously considering making the announcement.”
She said it would likely be too late for RDC students to apply to another post-secondary if they wanted to attend classes, if that is indeed possible elsewhere in the fall.
Meanwhile, RDC’s students’ association will be advocating for the college to reduce costs to students this fall.
Lausen said like other institutions, the college projects a small enrolment decrease because of things like the tight finances students face and a drop in international students.