Art by Leah Bae
Students accepted a dismal reality when classes became fully online and Pepperdine’s tuition increased. They are responsible for learning and performing at the same quality as an in-person semester while doing asynchronous and synchronous Zoom instruction, but this isn’t the best way to learn for everyone. The popular opinion among students is that they struggle with online classes more than teachers.
Professors still work, provide daily lesson plans and deal with the day-to-day struggles that come with COVID-19. So who truly has it worse: students or professors?
“Students are the ones who are paying,” sophomore Donna Thompson said. “I know that some professors are assigning even more [work] than normal because they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re at home.'”
Attending college from a living room isn’t worth the high prices and added efforts. This quality of education negatively impacts many students.
For instance, Zoom glitches cause unnecessary interruptions in class, and there is little to no social interaction between students and professors. Zoom doesn’t allow for discussions in Payson or class participation with understandable body language.
“The big thing that’s missing from being face-to-face is the small reactions (nods, smiles, etc) when we are all in class together,” Biology Professor Krista Lucas wrote in an email.
Personal connection and in-person communication are crucial in fostering a suitable environment to learn and absorb information.
After reflection, some students found the first three weeks of class to be challenging. Sheldon Fraley, sophomore, said he lacks “motivation,” while Thompson said she feels her classes “blend together.”
Teaching over Zoom, however, isn’t as laid back as students may believe. Many of the issues that apply to students also affect professors. Professors rely on classroom interactions to gauge student understanding and promote participation.
“It’s hard for me to tell if students are getting it or are lost – if they’re bored or finding the content fascinating,” Lucas wrote.
Now, professors compete with family and excess technology for students’ attention. For example, Professor Pierre Tang, who teaches music, said he finds it difficult to elicit active participation.
“It’s hard for me to know if [students] are waiting for me to invite themselves to be more attentive,” Tang said.
Furthermore, many of Tang’s classes — like other music classes — were canceled, prohibiting him from teaching the subjects he is most passionate about. Tang said this has made it “discouraging to teach.”
Professors also have families, which means they aren’t just teaching Pepperdine students but also their younger children due to school closures.
“Sometimes, one of my kids will get kicked off and be struggling to get back into their classes,” Communication Professor Abi Smith said. “In those moments, I feel like an awful educator because I know I am distracted from the Pepperdine students who need me to be at my best and like a failure as a parent because I am not helping my kid who needs my attention.”
Like students, professors experience mental health problems. Juggling personal lives and navigating an unfamiliar way of teaching, puts new pressure on professors to succeed.
Everyone is frustrated with Zoom University, but only entertaining selfish perspectives isn’t going to improve remote learning.
Practice patience and do not compare struggles because everyone is trying to make the best of unforeseen circumstances. Stand with professors and peers through the ups and downs of the semester. Finally, remember that the debate should not be students versus professors but students and professors working together to promote quality education.
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