The Gustavian Weekly

The Life of an Online Canoe Student: Logan Ries paddles through one stroke at a time - The Gustavian Weekly

By Eamonn McCullough - Staff Writer | November 6, 2020 | Sports & Fitness

For many Gusties, classes have looked a little different ever since Gustavus adopted an online learning model this past spring. However, regardless of the many ways students creatively break the monotony of college-under-quarantine, one thing remains consistent across most online classes: the content is adaptable to a remote format. In discussion-based classes, the biggest challenge is making sure one’s microphone is muted when not speaking. Even in classes and majors based around hands-on learning (like Athletic Training, Nursing and lab sciences), Gustavus faculty have been able to adapt their curriculum using virtual teaching tools and videos. Some classes, however, face quite the conundrum when adapting to a remote format. For example, how do you go canoeing over Zoom?
“At the beginning of the year, when we were all online, it was rough,” Senior Logan Ries said.
Ries is currently enrolled in the class HES-110, canoeing/kayaking, taught by Dr. Mark Hansen of the Health & Exercise Science department. The course is divided into two half-semester sections, where students explore canoeing to start the year before transitioning to kayaks after midterm. There are, of course, challenges that come with taking an equipment-intensive ACT credit in an online format.
“We were watching videos on canoeing, just making jokes… A little bit later on, we got to do some canoeing in person, which was a little better, but that was still rough. There were times when we thought we would have to cancel class if a student were to get COVID,” Ries said.
The major turning point for the class came in late September, when many Gustie students chose to return to campus to participate in hybrid classes. HES-110 was one class where a heavy emphasis was placed on in-person learning as much as possible.
“There’s a pond behind the new St. Peter Hyvee, and we canoed there. It was a pretty weird experience getting up at 8 a.m. to go canoe behind a Hyvee,” Ries said.
As with all in-person classes, special precautions had to be taken so that students would be able to follow prescribed COVID regulations.
“We had to have our masks on at all times. [It] did not matter if we were in the water or not. Part of canoeing is that you have two people in the canoe, but we were already eight feet apart so we were safe there. When we were canoeing with other groups, we were supposed to stay far apart from them, which we had pretty great success with, as long as we could turn in time. We didn’t have too many problems with that,” Ries said.
Despite the improvements that come with in-person learning, Ries still points out that the online format leaves a lot to be desired.
“The first month was rough. It kinda felt like a joke that we were even doing a class. If we stayed online, I don’t know how we would have fulfilled the ACT requirement. In person, it was definitely much better. I wish I could do more canoeing. Since we missed a month of it, it was fun when we finally got to go on the water,” Ries said.
As challenging as the online format was, however, Ries could only imagine how daunting the class must have seemed from Dr. Hansen’s perspective. He acknowledged that changing a historically fun, hands-on class to the austere ordeal necessitated by COVID must have hurt the instructor more than the students.
“Man, it’s gotta be hard. When you sign up for these classes, especially one that’s so early, you really just want to go and do the activity. When you see you now have to do everything online, and you’re gonna see students online who are less motivated, it was very sad. I think [Dr. Hansen] would want us canoeing more. He even scheduled alternate times for us to go canoeing,” Ries said.
Despite these challenges, Ries still had plenty of positive things to say about the class.
“As a class, on the whole I would very much recommend taking it. If COVID were not a thing, it’s a lot of fun, [Dr. Hansen] is very funny, and it’s a great way to work on teamwork. You have to work with the person in your canoe, which can be frustrating, but it’s a very good experience overall,” Ries said.
With registration for the Spring 2021 semester fast approaching, Gusties can rest comfortably knowing that however different their FIT and ACT credit classes may look, they will still be in for a wholesome and unique education experience.

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