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Brock Nahalka, Student At Geneseo College
Publisher’s Notice: Brock is about to enter his senior year at SUNY Geneseo.
While writing the first part of the article I received quite a few messages from friends and acquaintances about their feelings on Covid-19 and online education and although many of the messages expressed the same concerns. I still wanted to get other people’s input on the matter so I continued my research. Since the last article I have reached out to friends from Europe, parents of students, and some teachers and professors to hear what they had to add to the conversation.
I reached out to some friends in Slovakia to see how they were adapting to the new online learning. They said that the biggest change they have noticed is class structure. One student stating, “Lots of my classes that would often meet four times a week were now conducting one video conference a week”. Along with the less frequent meeting times most of their classes regardless of discipline are similarly conducted. The classes are often presented as PowerPoint presentations which refer to the textbooks. The less frequent meeting times means digesting the information being taught is much more difficult for students.
Teachers are having just as rough of a time as the students in some cases. Training for the switch to online was very short and covered the basics of getting started. Teachers and Professors are still learning how to navigate this new style of teaching whether it be posting a new homework assignment to be completed or getting their microphone to work for our video classroom. A professor of mine said in an email to the class, “I apologize for sounding hesitant in the pre-recorded PowerPoint. I’m not used to talking to a screen instead of a class yet”. Even with all these technical difficulties many Professors and Teachers have made themselves very accessible to answer our questions and concerns. Many go as far as to answer that 3:00 a.m. email for a question we have on the homework which is due at 9:00 a.m. when class begins. One student from Europe mentions “Lots of my teachers are available by call, email, or direct message through the school at any time if we need help”. However, with final exams now lingering on the horizon, it looks like both students and teachers will have a new obstacle.
Exams for course work online are completely different from in class exams. Now exams are almost exclusively multiple choice or short answer questions. Due to exams now being online it has become increasingly difficult for students, myself included, to study for them. Knowing that during the exam we could possibly have our textbooks open right next to us to search for the answer to a question if we need the extra “help”. There is even the probability that a student may have sitting next to him/her a person who already has gotten an “A” grade in the course sitting right next to him/her.
Trying to look up every answer may be somewhat difficult with time constraints on the test so studying is still required but the pressure to study feels a lot lighter.
Parents have their concerns too. Parents that have seniors in high school or college are upset that their kid will not get to experience their senior night during spring sport season. A few families I have talked to in the area have put signs in their front yards saying “Class of 2020” and have put their sports uniforms in the windows as decorations for them. Parents of college students are concerned about tuition and fees for room and board being a waste of money now that their child is no longer living on campus. Fortunately, many universities and colleges have come up with a solution to that with the money being transferred to cover housing for the following semester and the money being returned to graduating seniors.
Things are changing constantly, and it can be difficult to keep up. For now it is important to remember that everyone is “in the same boat” and students and teachers are doing the best they can to make things work out.