Illustration of student working on online classwork

After three weeks of online learning, students are starting to adjust to what is becoming the new norm trying to pursue their degrees during a pandemic. Credit: Ally Boyd | For The Lantern

The virtual and hybrid formats of learning offered by Ohio State may be impacting students’ ability to succeed in class, some students say.

After three weeks of online learning, students are starting to adjust to what is becoming the new norm trying to pursue their degrees during a pandemic. A university-wide email from University President Kristina M. Johnson Aug. 11 stated that the maximum size of in-person classes would be 50 people. Classes that exceeded this number had to offer an online or hybrid format for their students. 

Online course offerings increased by 43 percent from the fall of 2019 to the fall of 2020, according to a report from the Board of Trustees’ Academic Affairs, Student Life and Research Committee

Daniel Levine, a second-year in biochemistry, said that although his teachers are trying to accommodate and do their best given the circumstances, his experience with online learning has been “frustrating.”

Levine said having classes that normally have in-person components, such as labs, adds to the difficulty of adjusting to learning online.

“I think there are certain majors that are harder to do online, especially because they require experiential learning,” Levine said. “If you have to have a lab or if you have to sing in a choir or something, you’re going to miss an important aspect of the education.”

Despite a frustrating adjustment to online classes, virtual learning has provided students with some benefits. 

Durya Nadeem, a third-year in biological sciences and public affairs, said that virtual learning promotes safety and security from COVID-19 and offers a way for students to remain socially distant.

She said she has had a positive experience with virtual learning and that it has allowed her to dedicate more time to her family and personal life.

“It’s good that I can do it from the comfort of my own home and then travel between Dayton and Columbus because I just got married,” Nadeem said. “It’s been good so that I can have other parts of my life still valued while I’m still learning.” 

Nadeem said she is fortunate enough to have a stable internet connection and the technology and resources necessary to be successful in online classes. She recognized that students who do not have access to proper technology or students taking classes overseas may be largely impacted by an increasingly virtual format for classes. 

“When their faculty or staff are requiring students to turn on their cameras in order to get participation or attendance points, they should think about the students who may not have the best internet connections or functional webcams or even a conducive learning environment,” Nadeem said.

Professors who require synchronous learning should keep in mind the challenges international students face to attend such classes, such as getting up in the middle of the night and still being able to learn the material, Nadeem said.  

Levine and Nadeem have both endured online lectures in which the instructor has taught past the scheduled time of class ending. Nadeem said she’s had online lectures go almost a half an hour past the scheduled end time. Levine said his instructors do not apologize for lecturing too long when it happens in his classes. 

Levine said he feels like he is learning less because it is harder for him to focus. Nadeem echoed these feelings.

“I remember my freshman year, it was really hard to stay on task and motivate myself to go to classes even though I lived on campus. So now that you’re already there at home, what’s the point of turning on your laptop or computer to go to class?” Nadeem said.

Levine said he understands the difficulty the university faces trying to create a safe learning environment for all of its students. 

“I think the university should try to think out of the box and find other opportunities, but I also understand that some things are just impossible to do,” Levine said.