University President Rob Manuel sent out an email on March 18 informing students that the remainder of the spring semester would be completed via online or alternative teaching methods. For me, this was not a big shock, as almost all universities around the nation decided to do the same thing to slow the spread of COVID-19. While students had fears of transitioning to completely online, I’m sure professors had that same fear. Like us, they had to change their schedules and adapt to this situation. We need to be patient with our professors during this time because we are not the only ones figuring out how the rest of the semester will play out.
Since beginning my career at UIndy three years ago, I have taken four or five online courses and have never had any issues with them. Online classes are great and allow one to work at his or her own pace and in his or her own environment, which allows a more flexible schedule. However, I do know that not everyone has had a great experience with online courses.
One fear that arises about a remote-only course load is the fact that our professors are learning how to go completely online just as we are. Students need to understand that we and the faculty are making this transition, and any adjustments, together. We should be more understanding toward our peers and professors during this time and work together to help each other. Students who are more familiar with online learning tools should help their peers and professors who are less familiar transition to these tools.
My professors are using a variety of items to keep students engaged, one of which is Zoom. Zoom is an online platform that allows for group video calls, audio calls and chat, according to the Zoom website. To those professors who are using this method, I thank you. This provides me with some structure and allows me to stay on top of my work. Other professors have decided to use other methods, rather than having a normal class time to meet. As professors are figuring out what works best for the students and themselves, learning how to use new programs and thinking of new ideas for the rest of the semester, students should be patient with them. I understand that many students chose to have traditional, face-to-face learning for a reason, whether because they don’t like online courses, had a bad experience with an online course or simply because they learn better in the traditional environment. However, the reality is that professors had about a week to revamp their syllabi and transition the rest of the semester to online, and they are doing the best that they can with the current situation.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, UIndy has worked to keep both students and faculty informed about ways to learn and teach remotely. I commend the university not only for providing resources to students, some of whom are unfamiliar with online learning, but also for providing resources to professors, who also are making this switch, so they can best help the students. Again, as a community, we all should endeavor to be understanding. While it is okay to be upset and frustrated that we all had to make the switch to online, and it may not be what some of us signed up for, this is not a time to complain or be angry. At a time like this, being kind and patient and helping one another are crucial. If that means students need to assist our professors with Zoom or Google Hangouts, then that is what we, as students, should do. Right now, we are all learning how to navigate these difficult times.