This has not been the smoothest start to the fall semester.
Concordia students are divided on the success of Zoom as a medium of instruction, while it has just been announced that remote learning will continue into the winter term.
The majority of courses at Concordia University have been taught online since March 2020, when COVID-19 became a serious public health concern in Montreal. Many students, however, are still having difficulties with adapting to online schooling.
For Alexander Abuzeid, a second-year student in Cell and Molecular Biology, the beginning of the 2020–21 academic year has not been as enjoyable as last year.
“I’d like to focus more on my assignments and new material, instead of worrying about my microphone not working or my Internet connection not being stable enough.”
According to Abuzeid, potential technical difficulties on Zoom are not even the biggest inconvenience.
“Instead of seeing my professor behind the screen, I’d like to be going to class and interacting face-to-face. In Biology, we need hands-on practice to truly master the concepts — and all we’re getting this semester is three in-person bio labs in total. It’s honestly disappointing.”
The lack of human contact was to be expected since the start of the pandemic, in a world where social distancing is necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Allowing all Concordia students to return to campus would go against Quebec’s regulations regarding public gatherings. Following the limit of 250 people would simply force Concordia to prioritize certain faculties over others.
Virtual communication, however, is not a downside for all Concordia students. Civil Engineering student Juanes Lucuara believes that online lectures on Zoom are a better alternative for the same reason: minimal physical interaction.
“Being behind the screen is something that is comforting to a lot of us, since people like me, who are pretty introverted, would rather help out their peers while avoiding real-life contact and the anxiety that comes along with it,” said Lucuara.
Another advantage of Zoom classes is a flexible schedule. Many professors record their Zoom lectures and upload them to Moodle, so that students who missed the live session can view the material when it is most convenient for them. This is particularly useful for international students who are currently living in a different time zone.
At the same time, however, such flexibility may lead to poor planning and a stressful pre-exam period full of lectures that have to be watched last minute.
Lucuara also addressed this issue, saying, “When you have in-person classes, you have more motivation, and a sense of responsibility for attending all your lectures. I don’t want this false feeling of freedom to affect my academic performance.”
Communication Studies student Natalia Camargo, on the other hand, is noticing more limitations than excess freedom.
She believes that Zoom lectures are generally an efficient way of online teaching, but not necessarily for her program.
“Online instruction goes well with theoretical courses, but in Communications, I would need that human interaction with my peers and my professors, let alone having access to professional filming equipment. I hope in-person classes resume in the winter, so that I can produce high-quality content once again!”
Concordia announced Monday that, like fall term, the winter term will take place remotely
Photos by Kit Mergaert.