By Chloe Steiner
Written for OS 302: Wildland Ecosystems and Human Impacts
Active learning is something Alaska Pacific University (APU) prides itself in. It can include simple class discussions to case studies and hands-on field study. While active learning is not as simple in lectures, professors have still attempted to implement it through discussion boards and group assignments. Luckily, because of the size and location of APU, some classes can still meet safely in person! For example, my Human Impacts class met every Friday for field work and surveys within the Anchorage bowl this fall.
How Different is Class?
As expected, class is different online which you can see in the photo as we attend class via Zoom. Since the professor cannot usually see the students, students are less likely to contribute to the conversation. Luckily, the professors do require group work and discussions which allows us to get to know our fellow classmates a little bit more. It is also easier to get distracted. However, learning from the comfort of your home is pretty nice! I am able to keep a full-time job while in school because I do not have to make the commute from school to home to work every day. I am able to use my time more efficiently. So, while online class can seem negative, there are a lot of positives!
What Measures Has APU Taken to Protect Students and Staff?
APU made the wise decision to have the majority of classes online with the exception of a few field courses. One of those courses is called Human Impacts and Wildland Ecosystems which I enrolled in last semester. In our class, we met once a week via Zoom and on Fridays we met in person to do field work where masks were required. In addition, our class required test results before we were allowed to attend overnight outings. All in-person classes ended by Thanksgiving break.
Is it worth it?
Speaking from experience, I know it can be difficult to justify cost vs. education. Luckily, while the majority of my classes are online, my in-person field courses are definitely worth it! The photo above shows a student observing Williwaw peak after a long hike monitoring sounds. Pictured below is our class at Bird Point after a day of campsite surveys. Some other benefits include: meeting with professionals in the field, smaller class sizes, and having more one on one time with professors. If you are the type of person who cannot learn from a computer, cater your classes around ones you know will have field outings. The bond a student can create at APU is well worth a few online courses!