Students are waking up and getting ready for class, in front of their webcams. This is the new normal for us. Since classes have moved to Zoom, students have had to adjust to this change in learning. While it has allowed classes to meet without risk of spreading the virus, it has also drastically altered both the way they’re conducted by the teachers and perceived by the students.
In order to get a grasp of the latter perspective, The Syrinx presents the following testimonies about the feelings and rigors of Zoom-centered courses, from staff members who, as fellow members of the FPU community, are experiencing them alongside you.
Getting up 10 minutes before my 8 a.m. class to brush my teeth and then jump on Zoom for class has become my new schedule. Despite how wonderful it is to sleep in, there’s a part of me that misses getting up early to beat the morning traffic and find a parking spot on campus. I miss being able to see my friends on campus and in classes. Zoom allows classes to continue and for all of us to see one another’s faces, but it’s simply not the same. Zoom classes, personally, have made it hard for me to learn. I’m a face-to-face type of person who likes to be in a traditional classroom to learn. Having a virtual classroom through Zoom has been a struggle for me, however, I’ve realized this is only a season of my education. The normal face-to-face classes will resume and college will go back to normal, but until then I’ll continue to wake up 10 minutes before my 8 a.m. class on Zoom and push through this challenging time in my education.
Given a choice between doing purely online exercises and taking Zoom classes, I would have to choose Zoom classes. For one thing, it helps to keep my schedule consistent if I have to attend classes at the same time. For another, it keeps up, to some degree, the personal interactions that make college courses the special experiences they can be. I’d be lying to say that they were a perfect substitute, though—it’s easier to get distracted when you’re a click away from literally anything else, and this can intrude upon the extra thinking that you can sometimes get done in the lull periods of classes. But those distractions are even more tempting in the case of online exercises; there are no conversations—or any other reason—to pull your attention back to the topic at hand. I understand that the Zoom method doesn’t work for every professor, but in a time where face-to-face classes are impossible, it’s the best substitute we can hope for.
Sleeping late is great, but I miss those in-person sessions. I’m glad that Zoom classes offer a way for us students and faculty to interact with each other. I was already taking some of my classes online so the move to online-entirely wasn’t too daunting. I have found out many things about myself as a student through Zoom. I definitely like having a routine and schedule, and when I don’t my productivity falls by the wayside. This is because not all of my classes are required to meet via zoom so my schedule is entirely up to me. This also means remembering due dates and hours—thank goodness for planners! However, there is a silver lining. This experience has forced me to improve my productivity skills. I find Zoom overall as a good alternative for what is going on. It is far from the ideal but it is a way in which we can still come together and learn.
Nate Van Dyke
Transitioning to Zoom classes was a really strange experience and the transition was definitely more challenging than the Zoom classes themselves. Going from having a firm class schedule, to no class schedule whatsoever, back to having Zoom classes totally messed with my schedule, awareness of when assignments were due, and my attention span. The two weeks after spring break have been rough just because of that transition process. Still, the Zoom calls in themselves have been a minor blessing. It definitely isn’t the same as being in classes with teachers and other students, but it is a close second and it is much better than not having anything at all. The interactive features of Zoom, like the chat and the breakout room discussions, make it more than just a video lecture. Because, honestly, the thing that I miss the most about the classes is interacting with the other students in the classroom and hearing different perspectives from my own and the teacher’s. I could listen to a video lecture and probably get almost as much out of it as I would listening to a lecture in class, but the in class discussions are what made the experience truly valuable. So even though Zoom classes aren’t exactly the same, I find myself very thankful for the technology making my senior year not a complete loss.
Even though Zoom classes just don’t measure up to in-person classes, it is still a blessing in disguise. Students even ten years ago wouldn’t have had the same opportunities in a global situation like this. So even though we keep having those awkward silences, lagged out screens and we are never quite sure if people are wearing pants, Zoom allows us to still stay as connected as possible while we fight the pandemic together.