Learning During a Pandemic: Four Student Experiences

Tragedy often comes and goes in our lives, causing temporary hardships and inconveniences that differ from the lifestyle we have become accustom to. While the current pandemic rushes across the nation, interrupting our preplanned schedules for the rest of the semester, we recognize COVID-19 is not just affecting our individual lives, but has forced upon us a great uncertainty about these times. How long will this go on? Financially, how will we survive, how will the nation survive? 

Things have definitely changed for each and every one of us. With the first week of virtual learning underway, four SEMO students share their feelings about the current state of transitioning from face-to-face classes to online learning. 


Southeast’s transition into fully online learning was something I never expected to experience. Throughout my college career, I’ve been tepid on the prospects of distance learning; it’s something unfamiliar, perhaps even a little scary. Yet, though this transition was driven by necessity, I’ve found distance learning to be something quite comfortable and perhaps even beneficial. 

As a cybersecurity major, most of my work has always been done on a computer. Class time was always just used for lectures, which while beneficial to my understanding and focus, weren’t unreplaceable. As part of the transition to online learning, most of my classes have begun uploading more detailed lecture slides, which I find to be an adequate replacement. The bulk of my learning came from labs, almost all of which may be ran from either my local machine or SEMO’s cloud platforms. Because we haven’t lost any relevant resources in the online transition, these labs haven’t received a substantial change. 

The greatest change I’ve personally felt is the increase in freedom, which I might describe as a double-edged sword. Though I’m now able to work on assignments at my own pace and set my own schedule, it’s solely up to me to maintain these. Some might see this as an increased risk, but I see it as an opportunity to foster both motivation and leadership. In the adult world, there’s not always someone to tell you what to do and when; eventually, we have to take charge. 


As we transition from face-to-face classes to online learning, we realize the irreplaceable nature of being present in the classroom, being surrounded by instructors, classmates, and friends, and going about our daily schedules. As a fine arts student, this could not be truer. For myself, art is just as much about getting into the studio and creating work as it is convening with my fellow artists to seek inspiration and criticism. The idea of having to leave my studios and classmates behind was one I absolutely dreaded but knew was coming sooner or later. Most of my professors realize the importance of this social aspect in the studios and have utilized Zoom to help recreate the classroom feel at home. Zoom is being used to communicate with my classmates and professors casually and about current projects that we might be working on. Moodle will also be utilized to upload pictures and statements about our finished pieces. Since art is more of an independent and physical study, we don’t rely on technology as much as lecture-based classes might. 


I am fortunate to be in an area of study where technology is highly used, and therefore moving classes online did not appear to be as stressful for me as it may be for my peers in other majors needing their labs or studio spaces that could not be accessed or carried with them off campus. While I have enjoyed creating my own productive workspace from home, there is a lack of communication and community that will have an effect on the remainder of this semester. I am thankful to have access to all of the technology I need such as a laptop and my computer programs, however from one week of being online and off campus, I do not feel I have adequate communication from my professors that is needed to be successful for the rest of the semester. While most students are fully submerged in the age of technology and how to use it to its fullest extent, I know some professors and their classes will be hindered due to their lack of knowledge with technology-based platforms. 


My experience so far as a student and these classes transitioning online: 

I only take 3 in-person classes, with 2 online classes. My online classes are continuing at the same good pace. The teachers teaching my online classes have had plenty of experience doing this type of teaching before, so I feel like I am still very engaged in those classes.  

In my previously in-person classes this semester, I would typically be in a classroom for 9 hours a week (3hrs MWF). Since the transition to online classes, the workload hasn’t really changed. I am confused as to why the professors aren’t posting the lectures to the website, the ones that they would normally be teaching throughout these 9 hours of face-to-face teaching. We are getting usually one assignment per week to work on, and our other semester projects are continuing, as they are due at the end of the semester. I believe that the use of Zoom or some other virtual class would be good to do, at least once a week. And especially as different projects come due, we normally give presentations. This can be accomplished by using technology like Zoom. 

Technology has made teaching easier, giving both instructors and students access to vast pools of information and resources to enhance learning. So, it is very frustrating that it takes a pandemic to expose how behind-the-times our professors can be when it is more important than ever to be able to utilize these technologies. 

Helpful technology: 

  • LMS <-posting assignments, lectures, quizzes, tests 
  • Access to additional resources (videos, readings, activities) 

Other helpful things: 

  • Consistent due dates for class work. If you are an instructor that isn’t utilizing the virtual classroom where you are getting some type of face to face interaction with your students, you need to treat your class as a pure online class, and establish a day of the week and time that all the work is due. For example, in all my online classes, that is 11pm on Fridays. And the next week of class work is unlocked the following Sunday. 
  • Set up virtual office hours. Whether through Zoom, calling, or some other method, you have to be able to keep your office hours. 

In conclusion, there are several key points that we can come away with. Students should take this unfortunate opportunity to try to become life-long learners. This pandemic unfortunately makes learning more difficult for everyone, and sometimes you must find other resources to learn from than just relying on your professors. Learning is a life-long process, and technology has allowed for all people to self-educate much easier. This is also a time where professors must step up and become technologically competent. Many students may feel like they are cheated out of their face-to-face classes, especially those types of hands-on classes that do not translate well online. If you are a teacher who is transitioning to a virtual classroom by using Zoom, keep to your class times and continue as normally as you can. Make sure to check in with your students, as feedback is more important than ever. If you choose to forgo this, and instead move to an online-style class with no face-to-face interaction, you need to treat it as such. Set up consistent due dates for assignments and quizzes to be completed every week. Don’t expect your students to be checking into their Moodle twelve times a day to see if you have added a quiz or assignment. It is also important to let your students know about how you will be taking your office hours now. Instructor help and support is still wanted and expected during these times. It is on your shoulders to become accustomed to using technology to teach. By trying to avoid doing this, you are abandoning your students. 

Author: Quinn Johnson, Tech Assistant & Kendra Benak, Tech Assistant