Opinion: How online classes are actually going

Joelle Conway

The switch from in-person to virtual learning has been a challenging task for Washburn.

Students have made the transition to all online classes and instructors had one week to transform their in-person class to online delivery.

Faculty and staff have been adjusting to working from home or staying on campus to aid students’ needs from a distance – administration has been developing plans for the crisis and future impact the pandemic may have on Washburn.

Meanwhile, we’re all on the struggle bus together and it is a tight fit.

Zoom is being widely used for online classes that require synchronous communication. Zoom is like academic Skype on steroids. Zoom has many useful features like screen sharing, video chatting, whiteboards and in-meeting chat rooms, but technology still presents its problems.

Glitches, screen freezing and lagging audio and video – I know I’m not the only one who experiences these issues. It’s a huge distraction and completely out of anyone’s control.

There have also been recent Zoom hackings across college campuses, including Washburn.

Most faculty are amazing at accommodating and understanding students’ struggles. This has been a sudden, overwhelming shift for academics. We are all trying to manage during this difficult time.

There are courses who have changed their class times from the original semester schedule, and yet the instructors still require attendance. Although Zoom allows meeting recordings, there are instructors who do not upload the lecture to D2L because attendance is required.

Here lies the underlying question: Is it fair to require attendance when the original time a student signed up for was changed?

Requiring attendance via Zoom is an ignorance to the varied privileges of students.

There are students who do not have a computer or internet service at home and cannot physically go to a library to accommodate that disadvantage. There are students who live in a home with one computer and that computer may be in use by a parent who is now teleworking.

Many students are now caretakers of their siblings – not to mention having to cope with unemployment and impending bills.

Have Washburn instructors thought about these students?

While the semester must continue through this pandemic, we are all struggling to cope and reason with this situation.

We are not asking you to be so lenient that you give us an A on assignments we don’t complete, enable slacking or drop your standards completely. We are asking you for kindness, patience and most of all – encouragement.

These gestures are appreciated and noticed by your students.

You are not alone.

If you’re encountering problems in your online classes, the Office of Student Life is a great place to start. Student Life can help connect you with resources or advocate on your behalf to inform your instructor about your needs.

Washburn counseling services is still operating and scheduling appointments.

These sessions will occur through video chat or phone. There is a 24/7 counseling hotline available at (785) 670-3100. Counseling services are also offering coping resources, like their weekly “Coping During COVID Group.”

For updates, check out @counseling_wu on Twitter.

Disclaimer: This is not an attack on Washburn or any of its faculty. This is an informational opinion piece on the struggles students are facing.

Edited by Abbie Barth, Wesley Tabor