I never wanted to take online classes. If I thought that online classes were right for me, I would have enrolled in an online college years ago. Today I find myself taking 19 credits online. This is the reality of attending university during a pandemic.
None of us signed up for this. Had I known that all my classes would be online and that I would be recovering from shoulder surgery I would not have signed up for 18 credits during registration. I added the 19th credit in the form of a free class that my university is offering called US Race and Reality. I feel that it is not only important but relevant. I’m surprised that more students didn’t sign up for the class. Maybe they know better than to push themselves. Obviously, it’s not a lesson I’ve learned.
Last semester, as a national emergency was declared and the United States put into some kind of lockdown, overnight classes went online. It was rough. No one was prepared. Students didn’t know what they doing anymore than the professors. There was the challenge of doing courses online that were never designed to be online. Some of our professors told us to follow the syllabus and then went MIA. Others sent a weekly email with what we needed to do. Very few held regular classes via Zoom.
The funny thing about Zoom is no one knew what it was until Covid-19 hit. Suddenly they became the popular kid on the block. Launched in 2012, the pandemic has been good for their business, creating an addition 2.22 million users. Ferengi Rules of Acquisition #34 and #35 state “War is good for business” and “Peace is good for business.” They say nothing about pandemics, but they are obviously good for business for someone.
This semester has faired much better, but it’s still stressful. Classes are so much harder online. I have learned how much we actually during class time, now that I have to do it on my own. Taking 19 credits it is easy to fall behind to start with, but with online classes it’s even easier because time management is so much harder, especially when you have family members that assume that just because you are home you are available.
Most of my professors have decided that we are only holding class once a week to go over everything we have had to read and research and write over the previous week. They feel that being on Zoom for hours a day can’t be good for any of us. Regardless I feel that I am attached to my technology and can’t escape it. I remember when tablets and e-readers first came on the market. I was so excited that I was finally going to be able to get my Star Trek style electronic pad. These days I am getting more use out of my tablet than I ever thought I would. Sitting in class means sitting in front of my computer with my tablet in hand for note taking or accessing textbooks.
I love ebooks. Ebooks mean I don’t have to keep finding places for more bookshelves. However, I prefer physical books for school where I can highlight, scribble things in the margins, and abuse postit tabs. This semester the bulk of my textbooks are electronic because the university bookstore can not get it together. I ended up returning 3 books they sent me. I ordered all my books new, and that is not what I got. These three books that I returned were heavily marked up. I have bought used textbooks before and I have never seen anything like this. I am not paying $40+ for a book that has been marked up so bad it is almost impossible to read. They also canceled the pre-order that I placed for my poetry book without informing me. Only when we were told that we would need it for the next class did I think to check on my order to find out that it had been canceled. That book is it’s own annoyance because it is laid out differently than the print copy so those page numbers the professor gives for our readings, means nothing to me.
I feel like we are missing out on so much not seeing our professors 2 to 3 times a week and instead have to engage in more self directed learning. On the other hand I am recovering from surgery and I don’t have to lug books around campus with me. That is an upside.