Pierce Pioneer

Struggles of Taking Virtual Classes – Part 3

Especially for international students who are taking online classes from their home countries, a lot of struggles might have been shown up in spring quarter. One of the students that I interview, she was going to college in NYC. However, since her college dorm was closed due to Coronavirus, there were no option except going back to Japan. She shares how difficult to take virtual classes from her home country.

Videographer: Kotone Ochiai

Editor: Kotone Ochiai

Future Image: Ciara William

 

Video by Carlos Arribas from Pexels

Video by Ekaterina Bolovtsova from Pexels

Pierce faculty persist through the online transition

Jezreel Proo Staff illustrator

Math professor Judy Petkovsek endured her first quarter of online classes at Pierce College. 

Petkovsek taught one online class in previous quarters at Tacoma Community College, which gave her familiarity with online courses. However, in preparation for the spring quarter, she remained concerned for the students who believed that math could only be learned in a classroom. “My biggest fear was teaching online to students who didn’t want to take online courses,” Petkovsek said.

In April, all Pierce College classes moved online. The spring quarter of 2020 marked the first time that many teachers experienced online classes, which required faculty to adapt to a mandatory virtual environment. With Canvas, teachers could reach students through an established platform that allowed for a smooth transition online.

Petkovsek is one of many professors at Pierce College who had to adjust to teaching students virtually, rather than in person. With online classes being mandatory, the amount of productivity and self-motivation of students may be in question.

“I was teaching students who signed up for online classes, and they knew what they were getting into; they knew they had to be self-motivated, and they knew they had to work hard at this on their own.”

Petkovsek noticed a small drop in the productivity amongst her students, however, but more so in the likeness and reason for taking her class. For her Math and Society class, she witnessed a drop in productivity due to the sense that this would be her student’s only math class taken while at Pierce.

On the other hand, her Precalculus II students’ productivity either stayed the same as previous grounded classes or rose. Petkovsek mentions that these students are going into the STEM field, which requires a higher level of mathematics. “They seemed really motivated and very self-driven,” Petkovsek said. “I gave them a little bit of support, and they go and take it very far.”

English professor Kayla Pohl taught English 101 for the first time online this quarter. According to Pohl, she had experience with teaching online classes in the past, but worried for the students who may not have the resources to transition to online. 

“When you just switch everyone to online, the issue is that there are already so many inequities among Pierce college students,” she said. “There are racial inequities and financial inequities, so you have some students that just don’t have the resources to be able to do online learning.”

Virtual streaming platforms such as Zoom played a vital role in the ability to speak with students in real-time. The use of the service was not required by Pierce College, as teachers had the opportunity to host asynchronous or synchronous classes. This gave more flexibility with class schedules and allowed students to complete schoolwork outside the designated class hour.

To better serve these inequities and adapt to a virtual platform, Pohl had to change her curriculum by conforming to daily lesson plans. “Every quarter, I change a little bit based on feedback from students,” she said. “But this quarter especially was about cutting down anything unnecessary or anything that just doesn’t work well in an online format.”

Changing the format of her lesson plan meant less time to teach topics that would have required longer than a small fraction of class time. “Research says that you have to keep videos as short as possible, no more than like five or ten minutes,” she said. “I mean eventually you’re going to get down to trying to deliver content in a Tik Tok format. How am I going to translate Rhetorical Theory to a quick five-minute conversation? Not easy.”

Pohl devoted time to discussions and group activities in grounded classes, but online classes have made it harder to replicate that in an online environment. According to Pohl, an asynchronous classroom is best for an online format, where people with jobs or other outside devotions have more flexibility in the classroom. 

Yet, this quarter, she and Petkovsek noticed a small decrease in student productivity. Despite some of the difficulties professors face, many remain optimistic and determined to see this quarter through.

To help ensure productivity and connections with her students, Petkovsek used Zoom to record lectures in real-time and required weekly attendance phone calls. Petkovsek saw weekly phone calls as an opportunity to connect with students and solve any difficulties with the class. 

“I check in with them once a week for what obstacles they’re having, that week or any struggles they’re having for the week,” she said. “I check in on their grades and, if I see a grade that is low or if they missed our homework assignment, I talk to them about it.”

Likewise, Pohl also contacted her students, who may have been falling behind. “I can’t get in contact with those students like I normally could,” she said. “I’ve been emailing and messaging in Canvas as much as possible to try to reach out to these students and tell them; it’s okay if you miss an assignment, turn it in late, just don’t stop; try to keep going.”

Along with communicating outside of class, allowing students to access daily Zoom recordings at any time of the day gave Petkovsek’s students more flexibility. The Zoom meetings could be watched multiple times a day, unlike a grounded classroom. According to Petkovsek, classroom interactions were still important, even though it is more difficult in a Zoom meeting. 

“I tried to make it as much of a classroom experience as possible before class starts,” she said. “I try to do small talk, like, ‘How was your weekend? What’s going on?’ I get students to kind of get to know each other, and I get to know my students.”

According to Petkovsek, using Zoom for the first time online at Pierce, brought forth difficulties with the storage and memory of the recorded videos. Many teachers experienced challenges with the limits to a non-professional Zoom account that restricted meetings to 40 minutes long. But with help from Pierce College’s E-Learning Center, the transition was smoother. “It’s been nice because we’ve gotten a lot of those bumps and bruises kind of work through so that didn’t happen the next quarter; it all kind of goes a little smoother.”

During either a grounded or online class, asynchronous or synchronous, Pohl pointed to the reason she enjoys teaching English at Pierce. “Just coaching students so they can say the things they want to say and participate in the communities that they want to participate in.”

With a quarter of online classes coming to a close, Pierce College faculty adjusted to a virtual environment on short notice. They gave students the ability to succeed at home and worked diligently to connect with students outside of class. Going forward, Pierce has an improved understanding of online courses and prepares for possibly two more quarters of social distancing. 

My COVID Experience

COVID-19 has brought discomfort to the world as we continue to physically distance ourselves from each other. We all feel somewhat trapped and overwhelmed with what is going on; within three month of quarantine the United States isn’t taking the shutdown well. The COVID-19 virus, in my reality, isn’t what I envisioned. However it’s all I can visualize during these times. 

Being the type of individual that craves freedom on repeat every day, adjusting my schedule has been very difficult. Spring Quarter has always been something I loved, and having to sit inside, rather than taking my normal walks from school, makes this quarter less exciting. 

The shutdown defeats the purpose of school. Having school from home feels as though it is taking away some freedom we have. Although online classes already existed, it’s hard to not question and stay motivated without being in school physically. 

When it comes to the scheduled times of classes on campus, not only is that being disrupted by the shutdown, but it also has been extremely inconvenient to my ability to learn. My schedule consists of Math, English, and Art for the most part, and all of these thrive in person. With programs such as Zoom taking over and having to wake up for a lecture that is harder to understand due to the lack of interest I have in learning now.

With classes being online, I’ve noticed a shift in the amount of work we are now given. Normally each quarter, our professors would give a manageable amount of work, most likely due to the fact that we’d meet in person. The first week of school was tough with almost two assignments each class due back to back. My math class continues to have work every single day. It’s a surprise being able to catch a break.

Stress has filled up my life just from these first two weeks of school. However usually I give myself a break every other day to feel less overwhelmed. Consistency right now is hard and distractions are all around. The workload is not fair, but we have no choice but to get it done if we want to succeed.

However we now have a reason to get in contact with our professors for help. Before this, it would have been brushed off.  

We are still able to use this time for self-care, extra time with loved ones, and the things we always wanted to do but always put off. In these times, we are all able to evolve and become better as one. Looking towards the positive aspects of this pandemic is definitely something we all can work on.

As we all wish for face-to-face contact, schools, and civilizations to run back up, and just normal to come back to all of us. We all aren’t sure when the end of this pandemic will come. In the meantime to get back to that lifestyle, it is very important that we all are staying safe. 

So when we do leave our homes, we should keep a minimum of 6 feet of distance from everyone, wash our hands often, cover for protection, and go to the doctor if ever feeling ill. So that we can avoid getting this virus as this is a worldwide setback. In the end, we can all come back stronger, connected, and together as a whole.

Washingtonians will be required to wear mask in public or face a possible misdemeanor

Starting Friday, June 26, Washington State will issue a statewide mask mandate that will require all Washington citizens to wear face coverings while in public. This order is said to be a response to the increase of cases in certain counties.
Governor Jay Inslee made this announcement on June 20, after concerns with potentially overwhelming the county’s health care system due to a recent rise in cases, as stated on his website. Following a conference held on June 16, Inslee believes that doing so will have a positive effect on case numbers.
“As necessary economic activity increases and more people are out in their communities, it is imperative that we adopt further measures to protect all of us,” Inslee said. “Until a vaccine or cure is developed, this is going to be one of our best defenses.”
Other news sources, including Q13 Fox and the Oregonian, state that violators of this statewide order could mean receiving a misdemeanor, which can lead up to 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine. “Violation of the Yakima County proclamation for businesses is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and up to a $5,000 fine,” Q13 Fox states. “Inslee said that businesses in Yakima County that don’t comply risk losing their business license.”
As of June 25, Washington state has a total of 31,400 confirmed cases, with 1,294 deaths. Pierce County places fourth in confirmed COVID-19 cases, estimated to be around 2,672 total with 1,709 reported to have recovered. King County still leads in cases, having 9,504 total confirmed cases; however, Yakima County has recently shot to second place in confirmed cases, with 6,736 total.
A date in which the state mandate will be lifted has not been announced yet, but it is safe to say that this order will continue until the confirmed cases in otherwise county hotspots have decreased to a satisfactory level.

Animal Crossing: Just a Kids’ Game or a Modern Coping Tool?

Matt Slater / Staff Photo 

Young or old, you have probably heard of the video game Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Amidst the uncertainty that is global affairs in 2020, Animal Crossing’s cheery exterior and light-gameplay have been welcomed into the public light with open arms. 

But what about Animal Crossing: New Horizons has made it so successful? Could the raging popularity be accredited to individuals just searching for ways to escape their current situation, or is there a deeper benefit? 

The video-gaming industry as a whole has seen an increase in sales due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the current global atmosphere being very tense and many individuals stressed about COVID-19, whether it be work or health-related, Animal Crossing has offered a type of peaceful sanctuary. 

Animal Crossing can be used as a daily escape from the frightening reality of life. It allows individuals to take control of anxiety-provoking situations and vent any frustrations or fears they have about the real world. 

This pursuit of an outlet to funnel attention to is called escapism. Escapism has historically been given a bad rap because it is associated with relief from an unpleasant situation, but it is not always negative. 

Animal Crossing offers a video-gaming experience that is often compared to soothing meditational practices. The franchise is not dominated by heavy story-telling and the narrative guidelines can be completed at your leisure. This self-pacing mechanism offers players many choices, and with it, control. 

In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, players can decide what their character does day-to-day in real-time; whether it be tending a garden, catching fish or bugs, decorating villager’s houses, or visiting friends from around the globe. Original music, characters, and dialogue make Animal Crossing quite unique in the gaming world. 

New Horizons launched on March 20, 2020; In record time, it exceeded the lifetime sales of each previous game in the Animal Crossing franchise. Also during March, the Nintendo Switch console, which is the only platform New Horizons is offered on, saw a sales increase of 150 percent. 

Individuals like Jeremy Bailenson have worked to investigate the connections between escapism and virtual enrichment. As he explores in his book, Experience on Demand, virtual reality, and social simulators can help individuals recover from trauma. 

Traumatic events, such as global pandemics, bring a degree of uncertainty, which can lead to serious psychological repercussions. 

A 2002 study of children in psychologically traumatic situations showed that playing with toys or art materials helped rebuild emotional stability. Having the opportunity to play comes with the notion that people are beginning to put their lives back together, and life is going back to normal.

In this way, Animal Crossing: New Horizons might be the relief that our modern generation needs. 

Anyone could make the argument that COVID-19 has been a traumatic experience. Life for many around the globe has completely changed. The loss of communities such as school, work, and religious gatherings, as well as the uncertainty when communities will be able to gather again, can lead to serious mental health repercussions.

Maybe the reason New Horizons has gotten so popular is that it is tending to the psychological human need to play in order to deal with trauma. 

New Horizons is fundamentally simple. It allows for easy repetition, which can soothe nerves or anxiety. Additionally, New Horizons is open to creative expression. As a player, you are not confined to a strict rule book. Almost every aspect of the game is moldable to your artistic vision. If players don’t have a specific vision in mind, the game inspires them to create one with the tools provided. 

Finally, New Horizons lets you build and nurture new relationships and communities. It has become a new resource for individuals to connect to one another. In a time when everyone is a little lonely, thousands of players congregate online to share resources and playthrough tips.  

Animal Crossing: New Horizons may pave the way for new, innovative virtual simulators, especially if quarantine persists. It will be interesting to see how different aspects of the media industry will cope with life restrictions or if more companies try to capitalize on stay-at-home requirements. Regardless, New Horizons will be written in the history books as a smashing success.

Pierce College Facing Budget Cuts Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

Ciara Williams , Staff  Illustration

As the 2020-2021 school year approaches, Pierce College prepares for potential budget cuts due to a wide state fund decline.

On May 11, Pierce College Chancellor Michele Johnson sent out a mass email stating that Pierce College will be experiencing budget cuts in the 2020-2021 school year. As a response, the college is preparing a budget development process that is taking place over the next few months.

Pierce College braces for budget cuts as high as 20 percent. While that percent only accounts for less than half of Pierce’s revenue, according to Johnson, that still is a 10 percent reduction, adding up to around $6 million.

“This work will be difficult and unfortunately, painful,” Johnson stated. “There is no way to handle revenue declines of this magnitude without pain. Departments throughout the college will need to rethink and retool their entire operation.”

Along with Pierce College, multiple other state agencies could face general fund reductions of 15 to 20 percent or higher. This is due to a large decline in Washington State’s general fund revenue. 

“Currently, state officials and legislators are still trying to understand the full extent of the issue,” Johnson stated. “But preliminary forecasting by the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council points to a very large decline in revenue that started in March and could continue for several years.”

Pierce College has made a temporary plan, in hopes of getting the college’s budget through the summer and parts of fall. “Over the next few weeks, the Budget Team and the Budget Planning Groups will be working on ideas and concepts to build a temporary spending plan to present to the Board of Trustees in June,” Johnson stated. “The proposed budget will be reviewed by the District Cabinet and presented to the Board of Trustees in October for approval.”

The Budget Team is currently formed around large groups of departments and divisions throughout the district, including Instruction, Student Services, Self-Support Programs, Facilities/Safety, and Institutional Support Services, as stated by Johnson.

Many questions still remain, such as what departments will be affected by these budget cuts the most, as well as programs or student resources. However, as the months go by, Johnson assures staff that Pierce will continue to answer questions and address the situation.

“The Budget Team and college leadership will continue to share information, involve constituents, and be open and transparent in this process.”

Coronavirus Situation During Quarantine

Going Back Home During a Pandemic

Joy Kim, a videographer for the Pioneer, went back to home due to COVID-19. She talks about how Korean government operate a measures for returnees to South Korea.

Videographer: Joy Kim
Editor: Joy Kim
Future Image: Ciara William
Logo Intro: Jesus Contreras, Kyla Roygor

Music provided by YouTube Audio Library
Music: https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary/music?nv=1
Music used: Playdate - The Great North Sound Society, Natural - Endless Love

 

Struggles of Taking Virtual Classes – Part 2

For some students who have taken online classes before, it might be easier to get used to this quarter. which is taking online or virtual classes. However, taking virtual classes has many challenges. The virtual class means that students need to attend class at a specific time. Today, I am going to interviews students about how they feel about taking virtual classes for the first time.

Videographer: Kotone Ochiai
Editor: Kotone Ochiai
Future Image: Darrell Kuntz

 

Video by Krzysztof Jaracz from Pixabay 

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Struggles of Taking Virtual Classroom

Because Coronavirus has spread out in the United States, many school decided moving to online classes. It has been 5 weeks since Pierce College started virtual class for entire spring quarter. Today, pioneer staff interviews students about how they feel about taking virtual classes for the first time. We interviews students from Pierce College, University of Washington, Hunter College in NYC. We will have three videos about thoughts of virtual classroom.

Videographer: Joy Kim

Editor: Kotone Ochiai

Future Image: Ciara William

 

Video by Coverr-Free-Footage from Pixabay 

Video by Vimeo-Free-Videos from Pixabay 

 

Thoughts of COVID-19 around the world – Business owner in England

Ty Phay, a staff photographer at the Pioneer, interviews a business owner John Quinlan for Surrey, England.

Host: Ty Phay

Editor: Jesus Contreras

Thoughts of COVID-19 around the world – Farmer/Student

Ty Phay, a staff photographer, interviews Leo Kelley, farmer/student.

Host: Ty Phay

Editor: Jesus Contreras

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