So, there I was…
Browsing through various articles on my news feed when one caught my eye: LA County’s stay-at-home order will likely remain in place for next three months, officials say.
Listen, I’m not here to talk about the politics of this pandemic. I think it’s ridiculous that politics is entwined with the pandemic, but that itself is a political statement and my head exploded OKAY LET’S MOVE ON.
Soon after, another article came up stating that CSU campuses are going to be held online for fall semester. I assume that the rest of the California college campuses will follow suit with this directive. On one hand, I’m glad that the education system at large is taking steps for the safety of thousands of students, as well as the professors, administrative staff, groundskeepers, janitors, cafeteria workers, and anyone else who works on campus. On the other, it’s a severe wake-up call that this thing we’re all going through is not close to being over.
I’ve been back in school and doing the whole “student” thing since Fall 2018. For what I’m doing and learning, I benefit from being in the classroom. My undergrad was no where near the field of professional business administration, so being physically present in class ensured that I could grasp the information, ask questions if necessary, and walk into the next quarter armed with the knowledge gained from the previous quarter. Going to strictly online has been a hit-or-miss experience for me personally.
- Professor’s Preparation for Online Courses: There is a reason why this is #1 on my list. How the professor has altered and prepared for the transition to an online format is everything. As a student in the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, courses can vary from Marketing Management, Teams & Technology (talk about relevant), to Operational Excellence. The work that they do before class begins, be it a change in the curriculum, altering the daily lesson plan, or even organizing students into breakout rooms has a great impact on our experience. And trust me, we get it. Professors do not want to be forced into an online format any more than we do. I get that 100%. I think in this format, talented professors can weather the online storm and find ways to convey the information of the class in a distinct way. They have a chance to shine in a new way. And bad professors, simply put, are worse. Please don’t just read off your powerpoint. If you were going to do that, just send us the slides and give us a quiz or something. Screen sharing a powerpoint is boring, but I can say with confidence that there are ways to spice it up, make the powerpoint and the class more exciting, all from home.
- Extra Work, Extra Reading, EXTRA EXTRA: There is a misconception that because the class is online, students need more busy work, more readings, more case studies, to grasp the concepts the class is trying to teach. And it sucks. Assigning more reading just makes you the first three letters of the first word in this sentence. Now, altering the materials in a way that leads to more work, which in turns changes the dynamics of the class, that’s rad. From my experience and my brother’s experience as he finishes his final year of high school, simply shoving assignments to complete by a certain day doesn’t facilitate learning, it demeans it.
- The Kit Kat Bar: Breaks are good! Give us a 10min break every hour or so to stretch our legs, grab something to drink, sit in the sun, play with the dog, anything! We do live lectures, so the professor is still teaching to a class in real time, except it’s through the computer. Even in a classroom, it can be difficult to absorb the fundamental knowledge for the course. In an online format, surrounded by distractions, forget about it. But with a clear schedule, showing times for breaks weaved throughout a day of lecture, gives us students a roadmap of what to expect and peace of mind knowing that a brief respite is around the corner.
- Student’s Preparation: This is just as important for the most obvious of reasons — you’d come to class prepared to learn if it was in the classroom, so why is that any different for an online format (it’s not). Now I know that in #2 it sounds like I’m complaining about the work, but students can and will do the preparation necessary for a successful class. Take a drink if you heard this one already…no one WANTS to be in this format, but here we are. If professor’s are willing to alter the material for an online format, students should be just as willing to accept the change and do the work required so lecture can progress smoothly. But again, there’s a difference between beneficial work and busy work.
Like I said, online classes are tough. The format, while starting to take a form, is still rocky. Many professors and students have been thrust that they were not equipped for. No one wants to be in this situation (DRINK) but since we are, we should be making the best of it. Since this is starting to become another new normal in the wake of COVID-19, we have to all make an effort to improve the process for the future. Students, don’t be afraid to give feedback! It is so important for the professors to hear about your experience in the online format, and ways for it to improve. Your opinion is valuable, and I’m willing to bet that the professors are willing to take what you have to say to heart. Professors, we get it. You’ve been thrown a curveball that was not over the plate but now you’re looking down an 0–2 count and got an uneasy grip on the bat. Despite all that, you still got this! You wouldn’t be in this position if you couldn’t handle it, and you can. Stick it out, make it the best experience you can (just like you would in class), and us students will run it out with you together.
And, if I’m being honest, online class with an offscreen beer really helps in the learning process.