A dark room is illuminated with the bright blue screen of a university student’s computer, they wake up in the morning to attend class on the computer and stay awake well into the witching hours, only to repeat this again the next day. An unorthodox school year has finished and students are hoping the next returns to some semblance of normal.
Due to the pandemic, this year all classes at University of Guelph-Humber have been online with only a select few having in-person labs. The business course for example has no in-person course at all. Students like Ishanpal Khosa, a 3rd year student in media studies specializing in visual communications, and Anson Lee, a 3rd year student in media studies specializing in visual communications, who despite having in-person group assignments and labs still miss being able to interact with other students in different specializations.
“I miss the after class Tim Hortons runs with friends…you need a physical break between classes and spending it with your peers and having that the same break time as your friends is good,” said Khosa.
“It’s a lot harder to make connections with others in your program when it’s digital.” said Lee. “(I miss) the people, just having banter about classes, it makes school feel a lot more bearable.”
Classes online and constant stay at home orders have promoted laziness for students. Elliott Farwell, a 3rd year media studies student specializing in PR, has had group projects where his group mates have put off the assignment until the last minute all year. Farwell likes to plan out his assignments so he can get them done early, but the groups he has been in have caused him a lot of stress.
“When you can’t see your group in-person and work on it together all accountability goes out the window…there is a massive disconnect when your only interaction with your group is a zoom call where no’s webcams are on,” said Farwell.
People not turning on their webcams on zoom is something that Samuel Hernandez, a 3rd year business student specializing in accounting, has noticed increases as the year has gone on. Hernandez said that at the start of the year everyone had their webcams on, but as the year progressed there would be less on every week, until there were only four to six on every class.
“I think the big reason people don’t have their webcams on is because they aren’t paying attention to the lecture and don’t want to make it obvious,” said Hernandez. “They are probably playing video games, watching Netflix and anime, browsing YouTube, or on social media, because that’s what I do and I know a few classmates who do the same.”
Business students are far from the only ones not paying attention during class and Lee has another theory as to why. Lee said that some teachers have a hard time teaching online causing students to lose interest. Lee went on to say that some classes aren’t suited to the online format, classes that require hands on work and a teacher to guide you through have been hit the hardest in terms of students being able to learn. “Having to figure out assignments has been stressing me out all year…I feel like I had to learn everything myself and I know that I messed up for sure,” said Lee.
Another problem that Khosa, Lee, Farwell, and Hernandez have run into are classes that only have pre-recorded lectures. All four agree that prerocred lectures are not good substitutes for zoom calls.
“In my classes that had pre-recorded lectures I stopped watching them after a couple of weeks, I only looked at them when I tried to figure out an assignment,” said Khosa.
“When I have a pre-recorded lecture I barely pay attention, the ones that are posted on youtube I set to 1.5 times speed to get through them faster,” said Lee.
“The classes with pre-recorded lectures are the classes I do the worst in, I forget about them as well and end up with a backlog which is even worse to get through,” said Farwell.
“Pre-recorded lectures barely pass as classes,” said Hernandez. “I don’t know the prof and the prof doesn’t know me so emailing them when I have questions feels awkward, and it’s way harder to explain what I’m not getting through email.”
With lectures being online students have had a hard time finding reasons to go outside. Khosa goes out for daily night walks for exercise as he “likes cold and dry over hot humid.” Lee on the other hand has had a hard time finding reasons to go out. Throughout the year he would only leave his home for group assignments and labs, but when those weren’t happening he would stay inside. Farwell and Hernandez both try to get outside every two days. If his schedule is busy Farwell won’t go for sometime. Hernandez has struggled finding reasons to go outside, as his main reason before was to relieve stress with his friends.
“My year has had a lot of ups and downs, like the world’s worst roller coaster, in short it sucked,” said Hernadez. “Not being able to go out with my friends has sucked a lot, going out on Friday or Saturday night for some drinks with the boys was a huge stress reliever for me.”
With the lockdown and bars being closed, a large stress reliever for students like Hernandez is gone. Hernandez said that doing school work all week then having a day where you don’t worry about it all while hanging out with your friends made school life more bearable. “I like being outside…and not being able means that I never really leave school now,” said Hernandez.
Moral for students is at an all time low, said Lee. Khosa, Lee, Farwell and Hernandez all agreed that this school year was the worst they have ever had. Khosa believes that there is no way for next year to be any worse. All four students have low expectations for their last school year, but are still hopeful for things to be better.
“It doesn’t seem like the lockdown is every going to end, I would be happy with a few classes in-person…if it’s all online again I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Khosa
“At this point, next year couldn’t be any worse, there is no way it can be,” said Lee
“At the very least for next year I want some of the school to be open, I just need the change of atmosphere,” said Farwell
“My grades have dropped this year, I hope in-person classes start again…this year was like getting stabbed between the ribs, I just hope at some point the knife gets taken out,” said Hernadez
With the vaccines being given out and stay at home orders, these students at Guelph-Humber may have their hopes fulfilled, however uncertain it may seem as of now.