HVAC wants to get back

Appliance not built for online


Krys Shahin

Students Marlene Lopez (left), Steve Lowery and Instructor Debra Winckler go over how to fix a washer. Photo taken in 2019

Spencer Batute, @batutie_

Colleges across the country have technical education programs that require in-person learning which are being affected by school shutdowns in response to the COVID-19 virus. The Los Medanos College Appliance and Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Service Technology program is no exception to this new challenge.

The program trains students to work on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units, as well as other household appliances like washing machines and stoves. Because course training requires students to work firsthand on appliances, the campus closure has challenged student learning outcomes.

Students in appliance service classes are unable to continue their hands-on education, and are instead instructed to watch videos online, according to Debra Winckler, instructor of Appliance Service Technology. Some students work on appliances in their homes via video chat, but not all have access to the parts or the space needed to perform such work. Many report difficulty concentrating at home as well.

Because not all Appliance Service students can get the practice required by the course curriculum, the program has been extended from the end of May to June 30, a response a number of other technical programs at LMC have now followed.

Although there are no guarantees that students will be able to meet on campus before June 30, the extension has been met with positive reaction from students as they are open to anything that allows them to get back to hands-on learning.

“It has been very interesting doing class online but I would have preferred doing it in class in the school itself because you get the hands-on and the teacher is right by you to show you how to work on the appliances,” wrote student Adil Razaq in an email.

Winkler reinforces this by explaining that her students are not book learners, because “they want to learn by putting their hands on things and by doing.”

Should in-person meetings resume, the Centers for Disease Control social distancing regulations don’t concern Winckler because class sizes are relatively small, sitting around 15 people each.

The program’s HVAC class still allows for some true student learning, as students are able to run diagnostics for HVAC appliances through a virtual simulation service provided by Ed Tech company Cengage.

As of publication, Winckler hasn’t lost many students of the original 44 enrolled in the program.

“This semester’s just been a little different,” said Winckler.