Since mid-February, the threat of COVID-19 has affected every country and has been deemed a global pandemic due to its rapid spread. Across the globe, governments and their citizens are trying to combat the spread by limiting the amount of contact between people. In the United States, this has affected students of all ages. Universities across the country have shut down campuses and transitioned into teaching classes online. With the world in panic, some students are finding the switch to be a blessing while others are disappointed about saying goodbye to the Spring semester.
On March 25, the college administration made the official decision to cancel in-person classes and to move all courses online for the remainder of the semester. For some students, the transition has been smooth, but with a lot of unanswered questions many students are feeling uneasy about the change.
“I’m kind of dissatisfied with it,” Ashley Heimann, student, said. “[Online] is not my preferred learning style. I like [learning] in person because I am more engaged,” Heimann said. “When I’m inside of an educational institution, I’m kind of forced to pay attention. At home, I’m the worst procrastinator. [Learning online], I have to use another portion of my brain to basically to reteach myself what I just learned. It’s a little bit of a challenge, but everyone will have to overcome it at some point.”
Across the country, university students had to move out of their dorms as campuses shut down and began to transition to online learning. The University of Kansas (KU) was one of the first schools that allowed students to begin moving out and making the switch to online. KU student Libby Johnson made the official switch on March 16.
“I feel like [the transition] has been pretty easy in the sense that I still feel like I’m taking the same class,” Johnson said. “Although, being in a different environment changes everything about your schedule, and so trying to implement a similar schedule that you had before is definitely the hardest part.”
There is seemingly an outcry of students who are worried that their professors may expect the class to resume without any challenges or leniency. The transition is something that students feel will take some time to figure out completely.
“It’s unfair [for professors] to have the same expectation for the course and the work,” Johnson said. “Right now, my classes are honestly not that bad. I can definitely tell that there was a lot of thought that was put into them. My professors went the extra mile to really emphasize the priorities of mental and physical health over schoolwork.”
“It’s difficult because the workload is the same and we don’t have access to the outlets that we had before,” Johnson continued. “When you’re in a different environment with different resources, there are some benefits that you lack. [For example,] the social benefits. Since all my classes have started, I’ve just been able to tell how much I relied on my social [life during the weekend] as a reward for all the work I put in [during the week].”
While some classes can continue online without any issues, there are ones that require class discussion and participation to receive a grade. To solve this, teachers have begun teaching via Zoom, a video chat service that allows for video conferencing and online meetings. Just this spring, Zoom has added more active users than the company had in the entirety of 2019, according to CNBC. Lauren Hunter is one student among many who prefers Zoom over the typical online course setup.
“I wish all the classes were on Zoom,” Hunter said. “I don’t like having online classes. I feel like we kind of need more of a schedule [than typical online classes provide]. I didn’t pay for an online class, you know, I paid to be in class, and while Zoom is kind of a pain, I would much rather Zoom my classes. In my public speaking class, we have to record a video of ourselves [giving a speech]and then post it on YouTube. I don’t want to do that because that’s not public speaking. Giving a speech on Zoom would be a step up.”
Students and faculty everywhere are now having to put in a little more effort to accompany the change in order to complete the semester.
“I think it just takes more time on the students’ part to figure out their preferred learning style,” Heimann said. “Originally, when we were getting news that we were going online, a lot of people were kind of just concerned about the bandwidth, but there haven’t been many issues. I think everybody is doing really well with it and the college gave just enough time for everybody to get on their feet and figure out the programs.”