How Colleges Have Gone Remote Amidst COVID-19

By Julie O’Hare

I walked into my friend’s dorm to pick up the bottle of vodka that I left from the night before.

“You didn’t hear?”, said her roommate as I walked through the entryway. “We’re going home.”

In shock, I stood there for a moment. I knew my college sent home students studying abroad, but I never imagined they would kick everyone out of the dorms and move classes online.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that has created one of the biggest pandemics in history. Nothing we’ve seen in our lifetime compares to the global shutdown that has occurred. Countries have temporarily closed schools in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus and these nationwide closures have impacted over 80% of the world’s student population. 

Cancellations were initially made in states where the virus hit the hardest, including the Seattle area, California and New York. Then, colleges nationwide began to close.

In most cases, online classes have been set in place for the remainder of the semester if not canceled completely.

The general public has many questions about how online learning works, and as a college student amidst all of this, I have all the answers.

What program is being used to connect the classroom?

Zoom is the leader in modern enterprise video communications. It provides a remote service offering video webinars, conference rooms, phone systems, and chat rooms. It is free to sign up, but institutes have already registered their students. By using their college email to log in, the student can swiftly connect for quick and easy access. It is expected that all students have a webcam and microphone.

What if a student does not have a computer or a compatible one with a webcam and microphone?

Students have personal laptops to complete their assignments. This has been a requirement even before COVID-19. On the off chance that a student does not have the proper resources, most colleges have put a system in place that will allow students to borrow the proper technology.

How have professors transitioned their courses to online classes?

Professors were given two weeks to prepare after the announcement was made that all courses will transition to remote online classes. During those two weeks, classes were canceled to give professors time to prepare.

How do students join their classroom? What do the lectures look like?

Professors will email their class an invitation link that will redirect the student to the Zoom meeting. Like a normal classroom, the set up is not much different. The professor instructs their lesson for the day and students listen in. 

Big lecture halls allow students to mute their mics and disconnect their webcam since class participation is not a requirement. Small classrooms that rely heavily on the interaction and conversation of the class must leave their microphones and webcam on. Students are still expected to present projects, as well as answer and ask questions.

Has there been a change in the curriculum?

It depends on the course. Some professors have lessened the workload while others have kept it the same. If modifications have been made, students were emailed a revised copy of the course syllabus.

What are some tips to make Zoom meetings suck less?

Zoom has a lot of interactive features that help a student stay engaged. You can find discrete enhancements like the “Touch up my appearance” option. Or users set up a virtual background. Looking like you’re sunning on a beach might not be classroom appropriate, but even online, every class needs a class clown.

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