NEW LFA APP STRIVES TO SIMPLIFY THE BLENDED EDUCATION MODEL



After a semester into the Learn from Anywhere (LfA) model, which was put in place to educate students safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, Boston University has developed an app to help better facilitate the hybrid education process.

The LfA web-based app went live on Tuesday, Jan. 19, a week before the spring semester began.

In an email sent out to students introducing the new LfA app, the Office of the University Registrar stated they were hopeful it would encourage in-person attendance by “simplifying the planning and capacity logistics.”

Using the app, students can specify whether they plan to attend class in-person or virtually. They can also indicate that they are unsure of how they plan to attend class, in which case they will be placed on a waitlist. If a spot becomes available, students on the waitlist will receive a notification via email.

As long as a student is compliant with the COVID-19 testing and symptom survey requirements and has updated their LfA status, they are eligible to take class in the classroom.

However, due to public health guidelines that limit occupancy, not everyone who wants to attend in-person classes will be able to do so every class period. After preferences are put in, the app will match these students with available dates in the coming two weeks.

One student, Leah Hirschman (COM ‘23), says she appreciates the app because she can visualize her options two weeks ahead of time. “I’m a planner, so I like seeing what I can and can’t go to. It’s easy to just go down the line and check off which classes I’m going to.”

Hirschman said that before the app was developed, the process to indicate your preferences was much more confusing. “Last semester, you would have to tell your professors directly if you wanted to attend in-person,” she said. “The app puts everything in one place so you don’t have to go searching for your professors’ polls or emails.”

Another student who elects to go in-person, Audrey Hager (CAS ‘22), says none of her professors have adopted the app. “I’ve never not been able to attend [when I wanted to],” she said. “There’s never more than eight or nine people in my classes because I think a lot of people prefer to do it virtually or are living at home.”

While many students don’t mind attending remotely from the comfort of their own space, students like Hirschman and Hager like attending in-person classes because it helps them concentrate better. “I go to all of the in-person classes that I can because I think I’m more engaged, and it’s nice to have a different place to do work other than my room,” Hirschman said.

It will be interesting to see if BU continues to use the blended LfA model (and app) to appease the different types of learners going into the Fall 2021 semester.