Disappointment from students as Winter 2020 goes online

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COVID isn’t done with us

With the 2021 Winter Semester to remain online, many students who thought the COVID-19 pandemic precautions would only be temporary will now have to adjust to online learning for two terms. 

While the precautions are set to make sure students and staff remain healthy and safe, many students are frustrated with not being able to return for the winter semester. Furthermore, many students are having difficulty with online learning so far in the semester. 

Fatigue and headaches are a common symptom of many students who are staring at their computer screens all day. Furthermore, many students find it difficult focus on lectures because there is not the connection between professors and students. 

Chloe Gill, a second-year psychology student expanded on why it is difficult to connect with professors. “Quite often, even back when classes were in person, I would zone out and daydream as I just couldn’t stay focused, Gill said. “In person at least, I could snap back into it knowing I was in a classroom. Now that it’s online, I don’t have any pressure, per se, to keep my brain in line.”

To be on top of schoolwork, many students have compiled lists and purchased planners to make sure their assignments were handed in on time. Even while being well prepared, students are still anxious about accidentally missing an assignment or exam. 

“For me and I’m sure lots of other students, you always feel like you are missing a due date,” remarked Kori McGonigal, a second-year elementary education student. 

As a new adjustment to learning for students and staff, it requires critics on both ends. For students, you need to try to be as attentive as possible, raise your hand, not physically, but by pressing the button, and make sure you turn off your microphone after speaking into it. 

Advice for staff was expanded on by Gill, who wants reassurance from her professors. “Sending out an email the week of an important due date, like a quiz or major assignment, reminding [students] that they are due.” 

Being removed from the university learning environment causes distractions. With financial difficulties caused by the effects of the pandemic, many students struggled to find work causing them to return to their families for the school year. Having a quiet and clean workspace is important for students to achieve academic success. 

Although tuition rates were announced to remain flat, many still wish to receive relief from high tuition costs. 

“They should decrease the fees because it’s too difficult for [students to pay] in this pandemic,” explained one student, “there are no job opportunities.”

The learning adjustments have caused high stress because students are trying to balance their schoolwork with making enough time away from the computer to relax and recharge. However, with the implementation of the new Proctortrack e-proctoring software for exams, many students are upset by potentially harmful and extremely intrusive software. The software requires biometric authentication, which can’t be guaranteed to remain secure. 

Gill expressed her anxiety towards the third-party software: “Why implement a proctoring service that would be easy for outside sources to hack?” [Editor’s note: Proctortrack’s FAQ says the company will maintain a security program that is “reasonably” designed to protect student privacy, confidentiality, and security. They also indicate that they will allow a “successor entity” to take over control of students’ information following a merger or acquisition “provided the successor entity is subject to these same commitments”].

With the new term in full swing, many new experiences and learning curves will be thrown at students and staff members. Despite difficulties of online learning, many students are still grateful to be returning to classes. 

Ultimately, McGonigal shows her support for continuing education: “We are lucky enough to get the opportunity that we can still be able to continue our studies online during this crazy time.” 

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