Asking a resident on the north side of campus what distinguishes this year from last year often reveals the same answer: the number of people. No matter where you turn, the record freshman class size seems to dominate, if not overwhelm, the North Residential Village and many large lecture-oriented classes.
Students who purchased the meal plan for their dining needs have reported overcrowding in Leutner Commons, as well as an absence of plates and silverware, most notably during the first week of classes. However, as upperclassmen will attest, this is an issue that is bound to work itself out as students discover the dining “sweet spots” of 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. After all, regardless of class size, 6 p.m. at Leutner should be avoided at all costs.
Additionally, there are more dining options on campus this semester to facilitate the overcrowding. For instance, Thwing’s atrium, which was once a ghost town in the afternoon, is now bustling with the sound of business and humanities students. Ever since “Bag-It” opened at the beginning of the semester, students who would normally sprint back to the dining hall between classes have been graced with a new meal-swipe option in the heart of campus.
Once the food break passes, though, students must resume their course schedule, and overcrowding in lecture-style classes will become an inconvenience once again. Introductory science and engineering courses have earned a reputation on campus for being large; however, the class sizes witnessed this semester intensify this stereotype.
There are in excess of 500 students in many of these courses – so many, in fact, that students have been observed sitting in the aisles as a result of seating shortages. A less-than-ideal solution, however, will inevitably materialize once groups of students begin skipping these larger courses in favor of studying their textbook and watching class recordings online.
For students who are having trouble absorbing information due to the overcrowding, the new update to MediaVision that debuted at the start of the fall semester may prove useful. Rather than finding the recordings of large, lecture-oriented classes on courseware.case.edu, students can now access their recordings directly from Blackboard Learn. (Blackboard is the course management tool used by many professors at the university, allowing courses to be supplemented with an online classroom to facilitate discussion and collaboration.)
Class recordings will not be limited to just large classes, though. Starting this semester, faculty members will be able to use a service called Personal Lecture Capture. This new offering will allow instructors to record videos independent of a camera operator, meaning that smaller classes, such as those found in the humanities, can now be posted to Blackboard for student viewing. Faculty will also be able to record themselves via a webcam, so if students have questions after hours, professors can post video tutorials from the comfort of their home or office.
While the sentiment may grow tiresome at times, the concept of “the more, the merrier” does hold mostly true for Case Western Reserve University this year. After all, while classes may be more crowded and dining hall lines may grow longer, these problems are alleviated by new services and facilities. The adjustment will surely require patience, but at least the university will seem less like a ghost town and more like a bustling academic center.