Our Reactions to Zoom University Week 1

After two weeks of spring break, we finally got back to the grind to wrap up our last four weeks of the semester virtually. There’s no question that this is a major learning adjustment for all of us, being removed from classroom interaction, study groups and the plethora of academic resources on campus. So many factors contribute to this new learning experience, be it students' mindsets towards online learning, professors' teaching styles and the adaptability of the course material (for example, an art studio vs a chemistry lecture).

I’m a junior civil engineering major, and luckily not taking any labs this semester, so I’m only dealing with lectures and assignments until finals week. My professors are taking mixed approaches, some requiring Zoom lectures where others are making it optional or only providing pre-recorded lectures. I appreciate this mix because it gives my week some structure but allows a little more flexibility since my schedule at home is very different than at Pitt. I definitely miss sitting next to my friends in class but Zoom hasn’t failed to provide some good laughs. Dog barks being picked up by the mic, the unique choices of virtual backgrounds that classmates grace us with each lecture, and funny comments in the chat have become the highlights of my day.

The most challenging aspect is the monotony of it all. I enjoyed being able to complete the majority of my work in Benedum  and other academic spaces on campus when I needed a change of scenery  making my apartment a space to relax and complete minor tasks. In efforts to implement this at home, I’m limiting my study space to my desk in my room so that I develop a mentality to be productive and focused when there and to disconnect from it in other spaces of my home when I need a break.

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Several of our members are sharing their thoughts and personal experiences with the switch.

Corrine Koziel | Junior | Neuroscience

“Back in my day we lived through the COVID-19 pandemic, which sounds terrifying but for us youngsters we were advised to stay inside, away from others — a dream come true for introverts who love canceling plans. I've never received so many emails from one professor — they send an email every day, which is helpful but slightly headache-inducing. Finishing classes online is awful, but we love Zoom <3”

Sabrina Martin | Sophomore | Mechanical Engineering

“Some of my classes were already flipped to begin with, so the transition for those hasn't been bad at all. Only two of my other classes are doing Zoom meetings, but my differential equations prof is screen recording them so we don't HAVE to attend if we don't want to. It's been pretty okay so far. The biggest thing is that a lot of people don't know how to keep themselves muted during the meetings.”

Madelyn Decker | Sophomore | Psychology and Communications

“It’s harder for me to retain the information with online lectures, but overall my professors have been super understanding and accommodating which I appreciate!”

Eva Ashbaugh | Junior | Political Science and Gender Sexuality & Women’s Studies

“Most of my classes have become independent work, so I have to keep on track with the reading schedule and participate in discussion boards. I don't mind Zoom, but I just cannot pay attention to online lectures. I focus better in the classroom. I've emailed a lot of my professors about how anxious I've been during this whole process, which has been really helpful and something I'm also grateful for. I did have a meeting for work over Zoom with 144 people and dear god I never wish that upon anyone.”

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However, with all of these sudden changes, we must give credit to our professors and all of the departments at Pitt for making the transition as seamless as they can so that we can finish the semester and earn the credits we set out to achieve, especially by providing us with the safety net of the pass / fail option if needed. While it’s easy to complain about these changes that have affected our lives, we have to look at the bigger picture. We must be grateful to be in the comfort of our homes and to have this technology available to make remote learning a feasible way to close out the semester during this time of uncertainty.

Hang in there Panthers, H2P and H2Zoom!