Classes Without a Campus: The Transition to Online Learning

From classes in pajamas to 13-hour time differences, the transition to online learning hasn’t been easy for all of us.

A main player in the transition to remote learning is video conferencing on Zoom. Students reflect on the change, including a new lack of equipment and issues with time zones. (Staff Illustration by Alexandra Chan)

Professors, like us, are much more casual on Zoom, teaching from their houses in cozy sweaters, mugs in hand and, of course, accompanied unexpectedly by family members and pets. Some students are enjoying rolling out of bed two minutes before class – no need to rush and get ready – but others, not so much. 

One thing students find difficult is adapting their time, especially international students who are adjusting to a whole new (and most likely drastic) timezone.

Fortunately, some professors are easing up on attendance and being flexible with deadlines. Some even record lectures so students can learn the course material on their own time instead of setting alarms to wake up at 2 a.m.

However, some professors believe that time differences are an issue but not an excuse, resulting in students feeling pressured, like their professors aren’t accommodating enough.

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Gallatin first-year Florence Kim lives in South Korea and is expected to attend classes as late as 4 a.m. with the 13-hour time difference. 

“Recently one of my professors has made attendance mandatory despite the lectures being recorded, and a point will be deducted off our grade if we miss more than one class,” she said.

At Gallatin, where smaller groups of students actively participate in class discussions, it is especially difficult to communicate effectively. 

“In my classes where interacting with other students is a necessity, I find it harder to learn and stay motivated,” Kim said. 

Students in Tandon are also having new problems: they are used to being isolated from the Manhattan campus, but are now isolated from the resources and opportunities that the Brooklyn campus has to offer.

“For our semester-long project, we are expected to build and program a robot from scratch but we don’t have access to resources and we are not able to explore the options at Tandon,” she said.

There is no denying that online classes are not as intense or invigorating as in-person classes, but at least we can continue learning. With the negativity of COVID-19 permeating our minds, some students are looking for the positives, realizing that the smallest things make the biggest difference in their transition to online classes. 

“The kids of my professors are often dancing around behind the camera or their pets join into our conversation, which is fun,” Steinhardt junior Vaasavi Saraf said. 

“Some of my professors even put on virtual NYU classroom backgrounds to make the class feel as normal as possible,” she added. 

Tandon sophomore Paola Karina Munoz recalled that during a class, her “professor’s computer crashed and some students started playing Minecraft during her absence.”

The funny part? The class was being recorded for students to watch later. On the bright side, the Minecraft addicts in the class might pick up a few handy tricks in the midst of studying for their final.

Zoom definitely has its flaws, and being an international school brings a challenge or two, but it is our new normal. So, let’s be grateful that we are healthy, try to enjoy Zoom and hope we can return to campus as soon as possible.

Email Yaprak Ugurses at [email protected] 

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