BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Zoom became a way of life for students during the pandemic. But, CSU Bakersfield and Bakersfield College are seeing some students preferring to stay online now that colleges and universities across the country are transitioning back to mostly in-person learning.
At Bakersfield College, the Dean of Instructional Effectiveness, Craig Howard said online courses are filling up at faster rates than face-to-face courses, and at CSUB they are seeing the same for online general education courses.
Administrators for both CSUB and BC said convenience and health concerns could be reasons for that demand in online courses.
“I think we have put a lot of safety practices in place, both our vaccination policy and our masking,” said Dr. Liora Gubkin, Associate Dean, School of Arts and Humanities (A&H) at California State University, Bakersfield.
Dr. Gubkin with CSUB added it is understandable if there are still health concerns, but notes the school was not meant to be an online type of institution and some courses simply do not benefit from the online format.
Before the pandemic, CSUB was 95% in person and the rest online. During COVID, that changed and now they are transitioning to a 50/50 approach in some schools within CSUB.
Dr. Gubkin suggests students pay attention to the courses offered during registration to try to find the courses they need in the format they prefer.
Meanwhile, Bakersfield College is looking to adjust its approach to meet student demand. In-person courses have gone from 85% pre-pandemic to now 49%, and it could very likely stay that way.
“The longer we go on, now we are in spring 2022 and that number has gone from 85% down to 49-50%. I feel like increasingly that becomes a comfortable place to be,” said Hayward.
Hayward added they are also transitioning a lot of their resources and counseling to offer those services in a way they are seeing their students gravitate towards.
While the online classes at Bakersfield College are filling up at faster rates, as expected, some students still prefer to be in-person.
One of them is Eli Bautista, who's first-year was in person, second year was completely online, and this year has been a mix of both, better known as a hybrid.
Before the pandemic, hybrid courses which meet sometimes online and sometimes in person made up 1% of the courses at Bakersfield College and now make up 13%.
“Most of my classes are going to be hybrid and it kinda sucks, I tried to get as many as I can in person and most of them are just offered hybrid,” said Bautista.
Bautista added at least hybrid offers a chance at in-person contact where they can ask any questions, they have more comfortably than online.
Now, hybrid and online might be more common than when Bautista and many other students began their higher education careers.
“So it may be that online is a bigger component of the class schedule going forward and that is going to be a silver lining of having been thrust into this unplanned life experience altogether,” said Hayward,
Hayward added only time will tell if this new class ratio is here to stay but notes there are many working students or parent students at Bakersfield College who are able to work better with the flexibility that online offers.
As for students with disabilities that may need to be in a certain setting, both CSUB and Bakersfield College said they have teams in place working to make sure courses are accessible to those individuals.