Vermont State Colleges System works to extend blended learning model

JOHNSON, Vermont (WCAX) – As Vermont State Colleges System schools transform into Vermont State University, classes change. This means that some courses will be offered to students both in person and remotely.

This is nothing new for the Northern Vermont University campuses in Johnson and Lyndon; they have used a model of in-person and distance learning for years.

“I’ve actually been taking courses like this since I was in first year. It has been very beneficial, ”said Hannah Angolano, junior at NVU Johnson.

His differential equations class, taught by Greg Petrics, is in person at Johnson but students from other campuses participate remotely.

Angolano connects remotely when she cannot get to campus.

“You don’t get as much interaction online, but you still get more of it than in a typical online course because you see people in the classroom. These are not taped lectures, ”Angolano said.

This semester, three of the Petrics courses are hybrid and two are purely distance learning. He will have students at Lyndon, Johnson and Castleton. Starting in the spring, Vermont Tech students in Randolph and Williston can also participate.

“I just treat them like they’re people I’m interacting with like they’re here,” Petrics said.

The associate professor of math and data science has been using this system for a few years, but since the pandemic the technology has improved. All of these classes are recorded, so if something happens, students can watch it later. This flexibility also helps non-traditional students who tend to have jobs and / or families.

“It gets me out of bed in the morning to come and work to produce these classes, which is extra work on my part, but I’m happy to do it because I saw how much it opened the door for people. able to take courses and improve their skills, ”said Petrics.

Alyssa Crean is a senior at Castleton University. The course she’s taking with Petrics is totally distant.

“If that hadn’t been possible, I think I would have had to wait another semester to attend a senior seminar,” Crean said.

Crean says that in this class she only knows two other students from Castleton. The others come from other campuses.

“I don’t really know the other students and haven’t tried to contact them, but they just feel like strangers. It’s harder to communicate and wanting to form any kind of friendship or relationship with someone you’ve never met in person, ”Crean said.

To students who are hesitant about distance learning, Crean’s advice is to have an open mind.

“You will learn,” she said, “you just have to be open to an adjustment. “

This adjustment will continue as schools work to become Vermont State University.

Professors on all campuses create variations of majors to rework courses offered by colleges.

“Two-thirds of our programs have now been redesigned as programs that will expand access for students across the state and create more flexibility and a more transparent educational experience,” said Yasmine Ziesler, Academic Director of VSCS .

“It has been a very good job and I am really excited about what we are putting in place,” said Petrics.

The final steps are reviewing the teachers, finalizing the technology plans to support the new approach, then training the teachers and creating a direction for the students.

Ziesler says everything should be in place by July 2023.

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