Due to the tightening of social distancing restrictions in the Seoul metropolitan area between Aug. 30 and Sept. 13, Ewha announced all classes to run entirely online until the end of September. After Chuseok, a major Korean holiday celebrating harvest gathering, the school announced that hybrid classes would begin on Oct. 5 and students would be able to decide whether or not to take classes in person for the final time during the third hybrid class selection choice period, from Oct 12 to 16.
Jang Ji-young, a freshman majoring in Korean language education, is now taking a first-year requisite course Integrated Thinking and Writing in person. She shared her thoughts on her decision.
“I wanted to take on-campus classes this semester because I felt like I was spending my time inefficiently and could not concentrate on my studies last semester, which was entirely online,” Jang said. “As I spent my spring semester in solitude, I wanted to feel a sense of belonging as an Ewha student.”
She has taken one on-campus class so far and is greatly satisfied with her choice. She explained that the professor’s nonverbal expressions have increased her level of concentration. Jang has also felt more productive, receiving positive motivation from witnessing other students at school.
On the other hand, there are some students considering on switching back to online classes after taking a few classes on campus.
Gim Min-ju, a freshman from the Department of Elementary Education, elaborated on the difficulties of taking in-person classes.
“I am scheduled to take class via Zoom right after an on-campus class, but it’s hard to find an appropriate place to take the online class,” Gim said. “It is virtually impossible to have an active discussion in class considering the spread of the virus.”
Meanwhile, some schools that have already opened up their campuses have suffered mass infections. On Sept. 21, at Dong-A University’s Bumin campus in Busan, a student who tested positive came into contact with 700 people, including students and faculty members. The university switched to online classes shortly after the case was confirmed. Correspondingly, school dormitories were closed, forcing students to leave the residence.
In addition, universities including Yonsei University and Korea University have suffered COVID-19 infections on campus, among which Yonsei University announced all classes would be conducted online until midterms. Also, certain school buildings visited by the confirmed patients were closed for disinfection.
What is more concerning is that several COVID-19 cases had been confirmed in Ewha before hybrid classes began. In late August and early September, infected individuals were traced to the Main Hall and SK Telecom Building. Fortunately, all close contacts and employees working on the same floor have tested negative.
MK Ahn, a professor currently teaching Critical and Creative Textual Studies, decided to run the discussionbased literary class entirely online this semester.
“I would definitely prefer to teach on campus. The main objective of my class is for students to make connections with each other,” Ahn said. “Even though I try to use amazing features like breakout sessions on Zoom and Perusall, a collaborative e-book reader, to make that process as smooth as possible, it is just not the same as in-person classes. But it is a tricky situation we’re in. Some students who are taking my class are outside of Korea or Seoul right now.”
“There are advantages and disadvantages when it comes to online learning, but I’ve been trying to make the most of it,” Ahn added.
Ewha Voice asked the Office of Academic Affairs for an interview about the information regarding the percentage of each class type that students chose and how they are currently operating. However, the manager rejected the interview because the information could not be provided