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How CNM Students Rose to the Challenge When Their Classes Moved Online

Here are some of the creative tools students used to succeed
How CNM Students Rose to the Challenge When Their Classes Moved Online
Shae Gonzales, left, and her brother Andre Gonzales.

Jun 24, 2020

Shae Gonzales learned a lot about self discipline when the COVID-19 pandemic hit back in March. 

At the time Shae, 18, was taking three in-person CNM classes because she prefers the in-class environment. The classroom helps her focus. When those classes moved online, however, the ability to focus suddenly disappeared. The lectures were recorded and she had to watch them from home whenever she could find time. Distractions were easy to come by.

“It was crazy for sure,” says Shae, who’s getting a degree in Early Childhood Education. “But once I got a little better at time management and came up with a schedule, everything got easier.”

Here’s what that looked like. During the week Shae would get up before the sun to make her 4:30 a.m. opening shift at Starbucks. Then she would work until 10 a.m. or noon and head home to do her classes and homework. Then it was early to bed so she could do it again the next day. With practice, it all fell into place and she was able to save the weekends for herself. 

Shae says it was difficult to get the work done some days because she couldn’t just walk up to her instructor and ask a question. She had to email her question off and wait for a reply. The silver lining, she says, is that she got much better at researching questions online.

In the fall Shae plans to take six classes. She’s not excited about only taking online classes, but she isn’t worried either.

“When things like this happen, you have to do what you have to do,” she says.

James Seamon, 34, is another student who prefers in-person classes. He’s an Engineering major and plans to transfer to UNM for a Nuclear Engineering degree.

He was only taking one in-person class at CNM in the Spring—college algebra—but was working hard to understand the concepts because he knew they would be important for his degree.

“In class I interacted with the instructor quite a bit to get extra explanations,” James says. 

When the class moved online, James was afraid he’d struggle but quickly realized he still had reliable access to his instructor who answered questions via email or over the phone. His instructor was also happy to look at a photo of whatever problem James was trying to work through so he could provide detailed feedback.

One time when James couldn’t understand a concept his instructor pointed him to the YouTube lecture of a different instructor trying to explain the same thing. That video clicked and James suddenly understood.

“The first couple weeks were hard, sure, but overall I would still rate the experience really highly,” James says. 

For Andre Gonzales, 24, it was all about cutting down on distractions. Andre, who’s studying Communication and is Shae’s brother, says he had to hide his phone, take off his Apple watch, and do whatever it took to concentrate on his online lectures and homework.

“It was easy to look down at my watch and then 30 minutes later realize I’d wasted those 30 minutes,” Andre says. 

Like his sister, Andre eventually got into a rhythm and also found a silver lining. He appreciated how his instructors reapproached the classes once they moved online.

“All my instructors were really understanding,” he says. “They knew some students were struggling and did everything they could to help.”