This fall semester has presented new challenges for college students, teachers and administrators all across the globe.
Thanks to technological innovations such as Zoom, Khan Academy and Hippocampus, the virtual teaching and learning process has become a bit easier, yet it’s still not the same as in-person classes with real human connection.
In a survey conducted by Strada Education Network, 43% of survey participants between the ages of 18-24 said they have changed their education plans as a result of COVID-19.
Students at Florida A&M University have definitely had to readjust their learning and studying habits to accommodate the changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has created. With the majority of students unable to knock out assignments on campus or study outside on the quad like before, many are eager for classes to return to campus.
Jaciah Lumpkins is a senior sociology major with a minor in psychology who is trying her best to stay organized with due dates and assignments for this semester. Yet, finding the motivation during this semester has been a challenge for her.
“I think the biggest challenge is staying focused,” Lumpkins said. “Since I’m not in the classroom or library, I’m not motivated to do anything and I feel lazy because when I see my bed I just want to get in it. My grades are still good but it’s very tempting not to go to class because like I said, I’m just not focused enough.”
Lumpkins has implemented the use of a color-coded calendar to help her stay organized with upcoming due dates for assignments. By implementing this strategy, it has helped her to not have any surprises about what her school schedule looks like for the semester. She believes the majority of her professors have been doing a good job at accommodating their classes because they are aware that not everyone is in Tallahassee and not everyone has the same resources at home.
As for teachers, it is clear to see that their students are having a bit of difficulty adjusting to sitting in front of a computer screen at home and being fully engaged.
Professor Gamero had to rearrange his classes, which were much more communal and interactive in previous semesters. Zoom is not as exciting to his students but he is working diligently to meet the needs of his students while trying to keep them engaged.
“While I haven’t really seen a significant drop in grades in my classes, I think that students are finding it hard to stay motivated, which can affect their participation in any class,” Gamero said. “With traditional classes, students would get up, get ready, pack their bags (mostly), then go to the classroom where they would sit down and face me. Virtually, though, you have to unmute to speak, which restrains some students, and then not to mention the internet issues. Then, there are those who would Zoom into the class while doing anything else. Not to mention the constant reminders to turn videos on. These might sound nit-picky, but they play a major role in how faculty and students see the class and engage, which is a bulk of what my class does. I don’t just lecture.”
Gamero said he has to be more coercive in getting students to participate but he simultaneously understands that many students are disappointed by the lack of social interaction that they were looking forward to on the hill.
For now, students and teachers can only hope that the spring semester will bring back some sense of normalcy to the classroom and learning experience.
Students can visit http://www.famu.edu/index-landing-clean.cfm?coronavirus to stay up to date on statements from the university on the COVID-19 pandemic.