Santa Ana College’s lack of leadership disarrays online transitions

In February and early March, colleges across California were closing down in preparation for online courses for the Covid-19 pandemic. Except for Santa Ana College, which was one of the final institutions to remain open during the campus shutdowns. Leaving students, faculty, and myself doubting if administrators ever had a plan to address the epidemic, or how SAC would move forward. Officials finally decided on March 18. This delay towards what the leaders called ” Temporary Remote Instruction,” became an unorganized train wreck, causing students and faculty to fend for themselves.

This last-minute plan undoubtedly affected the entire spring 2020 semester. Making me question why officials waited. Was it so difficult to see a coming crisis month ahead and not have a single course of action? Then again, representatives made it clear that they had no plans in place. What angers me are the words from one SAC administrator who said, “We didn’t have a plan.” From that moment, I knew it was going to be one strange semester.

Soon after “Temporary Remote Instruction,” Santa Ana College’s research department surveyed SAC students. More than 886 were asked how they felt about the online transition. About 64% or roughly 567 answered, “I prefer face to face instruction to online instruction.” It came as no surprise, but by then, we were already facing all sorts of hardships and dealing with the frustration when change comes with no warning.

At the beginning of TRI, it took a while before most classes were able to function. Many of my professors had a tough time during the first weeks of the transition. Plagued with technical issues, and how to get an entire semester’s worth of content transferred online in only a few days wasn’t working. Most had no experience or training in teaching online courses, which could have been avoided if they had an opportunity to prepare, and given the proper training on

how to teach in an online environment. However, our professors’ persistence to get everything up and running was inspiring. Even with an ongoing crisis, they did everything in their power to continue our education. They are unsung heroes. Santa Ana College officials were not.

Most of the students that did continue during this online format were not happy. Not just because of the move to online courses, but our entire lifestyles had changed in an instant, forcing us to adapt. It was stressful.

I recall conversations during class, talking with others about their stories. In those moments, hearing everyone vent or laugh during class brought peace to this most strange time. Sadly, not everyone could adapt to online courses due to life’s circumstances. Many were losing an entire semester and facing problems one can only imagine.

So, what’s the solution, and how do we prepare for future events? First, train professors to teach in an online environment and accommodate those classes that can’t be taught online. Most of all, listen to the students. Treating us like numbers makes for distrust.

The indecision of our administrators caused an enormous amount of stress in an already terrible situation. Their last-minute actions are unacceptable. The only way to win back our trust and to believe in Santa Ana College again is to have a plan. Otherwise, there is no future here.

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