Filing through the Oval, looking for classrooms and buildings, reviewing syllabi with new professors and other first-day-of-class traditions at Ohio State have now been replaced by keyboard clicking, online video-lecture watching and Zoom conference calling on what marks the university’s first day of online classes.
University President Michael V. Drake announced in a March 12 email a transition to entirely virtual classes for the remainder of the spring semester and extension of spring break by one week to allow professors more time to move their material online. Virtual classes began Monday, and students’ experiences involved both adjusting to new technology and creating their own schedules.
Drake said in a tweet Monday that he is grateful for the flexibility and understanding shown by professors and students.
“Together, we will emerge from this unprecedented moment a stronger, more resilient Buckeye community,” Drake said.
Experience taking online classes was helpful, but using Zoom was a bit of an adjustment, Melina Edic, a third-year in anthropology and ancient history and classics, said.
Lauren Dietz, a second-year in neuroscience, said that sometimes she was disconnected and logged out from the video conference she was on. Edic said there were a few instances of her classmates’ microphones not working during her two classes held on Zoom Monday.
“I’ve never used any sort of conference system like that, so that took some getting used to,” Edic said. “Since those are both small classes, it made it more manageable and easier to interact with my instructor.”
Edic said her online classes were similar to the in-person format she is used to.
“Going through things as a class and professors calling on people — and they’re both translation classes for Greek and Latin — we’re typically going through a text or something and taking turns translating,” Edic said. “That was something we were able to keep doing with this format.”
Dietz said her first day online wasn’t ideal because some of her classes are longer now, but going virtual is also helpful because it allows her professors to explain in more detail.
“I just feel like that adds more time,” Dietz said. “Some of my classes instead of being 55 minutes, the pre-recorded lectures are like an hour and a half.”
However, Edic said there still were some differences from her in-person classes.
“I think the fact that I was just sitting in my apartment and in class at the same time, I kind of had mixed feelings about that,” Edic said.
Dietz said she noticed how easy it was to get distracted during online classes.
“Not even necessarily with my phone, I just feel like everyone’s experiencing a little bit of distraction just even in the classes themselves,” Dietz said. “It’s super easy to get off topic or to go off on a tangent because I feel like we’re not really confined anymore. People don’t have to go to a class necessarily next.”
One notable difference some students felt was the change in daily routine.
Edic said she would typically spend Mondays on campus, but now she has two classes on Zoom that meet at their originally scheduled times and two classes with recorded lectures for students to watch on their own.
“It’s less structured and I’m more responsible for finding time to do it,” Edic said.
Evan Vautour, a second-year in history, said creating his own schedule was helpful in establishing a routine.
Vautour said he looked through his actual class schedule and decided to do the assignments for each class on the day he would normally have it.
“It’s been pretty good to have some structure,” Vautour said.
The change to a virtual classroom was an adjustment for professors as well, but Dietz, Edic and Vautour said they think their professors are doing the best they can given the circumstances.
“There were so many changes in such a short amount of time. I think it took them a bit,” Edic said. “I know for one of my classes, I kept getting messages that they updated the syllabus. It happened, like, three times. I feel like they’re just as helpless, I guess, as the rest of us. I think they’re just doing their best — everyone’s really doing their best at this point.”