Echo Takes College

Q&A’s with some of our Echo Staff who attended college in the midst of a global pandemic.

Q: In a college setting, what were the positives and negatives to remote learning?

A: A positive to online learning was figuring out more effective methods to teach myself the material that I was expected to learn. Some drawbacks include not being able to maintain motivation and focus while looking at a screen for so long, a lack of engagement with my professors, and a decline in my overall ability to participate. - Jake Pauley // University of Colorado Boulder

A: A benefit of this type of learning was being able to have more time to complete assignments, as my professors were accommodating given the current situation we all are in. A negative was not being able to meet with my professors and establish good relationships with them. - Jason Stickler // Penn State University

Q: What did your teachers do specifically to make online learning more engaging?

A: A lot of my professors utilized “Breakout Rooms” during class times, allowing my peers and I to collaborate on the content just presented. This tool also helped me connect with others in my class so that I ended up making new friends even despite never having met them in person. Also, because some of my classes ran just under two hours, they played videos and gave us articles to read and analyze to break up their lengthy lectures. - Hallie Mandelbaum // Syracuse University

A: My professors made online office hours more available in order to clarify anything I didn’t quite conceptually understand. All of my professors also posted their lectures online prior to each class, which helped me understand the content before they thoroughly explained it. - Ellie Grabow // University of Richmond

Q: In what ways did your college’s restrictions affect your ways of learning as well as interacting with other people on campus?

A: Since all of my classes were online, there were fewer face-to-face interactions with my professors. This ultimately made me adapt to using online resources as opposed to asking my teachers questions directly. I also had to study in my room more as opposed to using public study spaces, therefore I had to find ways to avoid becoming distracted. Restrictions made it difficult to socialize in ways I was used to, so this forced me to change up the ways in which I interact with friends. The national restrictions led to reduced indoor capacities and I, therefore, had to take part in more outdoor activities. - Mikey Demarco // University of Dundee

A: It definitely was harder to meet peers in my classes, but I still felt like I was able to be connected with my professors as many of my class sizes did not exceed 20 people. I still felt engaged with my courses but it definitely was a different experience with the restrictions in place. Even though there were restrictions, I had a pretty good semester with my friends while being careful. - Sammie Gordon // University of Michigan

Q: Reflecting on the previous semester, what can your professors do differently to make your overall learning experience, whether it be hybrid or online, more enjoyable, and engaging?

A: I think professors should be more understanding given the circumstances and reach out more to their students through mid-semester feedback or weekly surveys. They could find out how we are managing the workload, if the amount of time allocated to projects is long enough, if the format of the class is helping our understanding of the content, and if the tests and quizzes fairly challenge us. - Jaime Gartenberg // Syracuse University

A: Keeping the students actively listening and involved in every class is important. It is very hard to learn through a screen when a professor lectures for an entire class period, especially if the class runs over an hour. A way to eliminate this common struggle among many students in a big lecture is if the professor shows the slides and annotates during the lecture. - Jason Berg // Penn State University