Online Classes are Hindering the Student Learning Experience


Shifting to online classes can be difficult for students who never took them before.

Sara Alouh, Writer

In these unprecedented times, getting used to a whole new system of learning can be exhausting. 

The switch to online classes has been strange, to say the least. I’m an extremely social person, so self-isolation is not for me. A part of me wants to selfishly go out with friends and go back to in-person classes. However, I also understand the threat this virus poses. So, at home I shall remain. 

With three younger siblings doing online classes as well as my mother who teaches online now, getting any work done is proving to be difficult. Everyone stakes out a different room in the house every morning, marking our territories. 

With multiple people in classes at a given time, our internet has been frustratingly slow. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings in particular, when everyone is in some sort of online class, understanding my professor through rough audio and grainy video is near impossible. 

Beyond internet connection, we just don’t have enough devices at home. While I have my laptop and my mom has hers, my siblings have to ration their shared laptops and tablets, a situation which usually devolves into a screaming match.

Students other than myself are also having difficulty adjusting to this new reality. My friend Amena Shukairy, a mathematics major at UM-Flint, says she’s also experiencing troubles staying focused with all the distractions at home. 

“For me personally, sitting at home sucks the motivation out of me. So, I don’t work as hard as I usually would,” said Shukairy. “There’s always something going on in my house. It’s always a full house. It’s a lot harder to concentrate.”

Some students have also admitted a lack of consistency in how courses are being taught online. Kourt Frame, a wildlife biology major, says all his professors have their own unique interpretations of online teaching, and it makes it hard to keep track. 

“I’m very sick of work because it all feels like busy work at this point. It all feels kind of pointless,” said Frame. 

“I guess for some classes they expect us to work harder,” said Shukairy.

Another drawback for Frame is that this new system is less personalized to the student and makes communication with professors more difficult. Whereas earlier in the semester it was easy for students to ask questions in person or pop into a professor’s office hours for extra help. Now, it feels like there’s a wall between students and professors, which makes communicating a lot more difficult. 

“I like asking stuff in person a lot more … but I don’t want to bombard [my professors] with emails,” said Frame. 

A silver lining in all this is the implementation of the pass/fail option for this semester. Opting in to pass/fail allows students to either receive credits if they pass a class or not if they fail. Either way, the classes students opt for the pass/fail option have no effect on their grade point average. 

Frame likes the fact that the pass/fail option is just that–an option. Shukairy believes the pass/fail option would help with taking some of the pressure off trying to do as well in this entirely new system. 

“There’s some students who don’t do well in online classes, which is like me. I don’t retain anything for online classes. So it’s just not fair to expect me to learn things when we cut off in-person classes halfway through the semester,” said Shukairy. 

The general consensus seems to be that everyone wants to go back to normal but appreciates the fact that our current situation is a necessary evil in the name of public health. For now, many students are dealing with this change as best as they can. 

“I just want to get it over with … I feel like we all just need a brain break,” said Shukairy.