When the COVID-19 coronavirus first gripped the nation, educators across the nation had to quickly adapt to a continuously changing world. Students needed to continue learning but traditional delivery methods were not an option.
Fast forward a year later, and students are still learning in what would be considered “unconventional ways.” Many students, including those at Shippensburg University, find themselves logging on for Zoom classes, attending in-person classes at a minimal scheduled basis, or are working at their own pace in asynchronous classes.
Attending Zoom classes five days a week is overwhelming to say the least. Between academics and expected extracurriculars to diversify our resumes, students are spending a lot of time in front of their computer screens.
If a student has a full course load (five, three-credit courses, 15 credits total) of classes that require regular Zoom meetings, they will spend 750 minutes or 12.5 hours in class a week. Now this may not seem like a lot, but most professors tell students during syllabus week that in order to be successful in their classes students should plan on spending two additional hours studying for each class meeting. For a student who takes three courses that meet three times a week and two courses that meet twice a week, add on at least 26 more hours of work outside the classroom.
We are here to become experts in our prospective fields. It is why we pay thousands of dollars in tuition to be here — whether it is in-person, virtual or otherwise. But there needs to be effort and participation by both the students and the professors.
Most professors are making a good-faith effort to ensure their students are getting a somewhat comparable educational experience. However, there are miscommunications, and because the online learning environment for both students and professors is not easy, things fall through the cracks.
Students are feeling additional stress because more of the teaching responsibility is thrust upon us. We are working with less of an understanding than we would have if we were learning in-person. Some classes are easier than others but many Slate staff members are teaching themselves in classes where they do not have any prior knowledge in the subject matter. For example, students signed up for a synchronous class hoping for lectures and direct professor instruction. These classes evolved into a meeting once every couple of weeks and a lot of individual teaching.
Some professors refuse to teach information and repeatedly refer students to textbooks, rather than taking time to explain over a Zoom call. This feels as if our professors are disregarding students’ needs.
One of the most frustrating elements for students is the dreaded discussion boards with our peers. Understandably, professors want to use this tool as a mode of conversation when situations do not permit for in-person or synchronous online classes. But discussion boards are not really enriching —both before the pandemic and now. We find ourselves waiting for peers to post (some of which never do) so that we can earn our participation points by “thoughtfully” responding to three other posts.
Students need professors to teach, not assign readings that will not be discussed, discussion boards and “fluff” assignments that do not get graded. We need feedback on work, questions answered and tough concepts explained
Professors are not immune to the trials of the coronavirus pandemic. Their lives were turned upside down, too. Some have lost family members, fallen ill themselves or have families who need them at home. Our lives are no longer as simple as showing up maskless to a lecture hall for a few hours a week. We as students need to have the patience and understanding with professors that we expect in return.
But together, both students and professors must put forth our best efforts. Students chose to attend college to become experts in their field. Good professors chose to teach because they love their field so much that they wanted to pass along the passion and information to future generations. Neither of us are meeting our goals with baseless discussion board questions and untaught lessons.