Posted on: October 22, 2020 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

By Deana Elhit, Features Editor

Since last spring, COVID-19 has caused the lockdown of most schools across the United States, including Moraine Valley Community College. The Glacier is presenting a series of stories to hear MVCC professors and students talk about the experiences and challenges they are facing while making the switch to digital learning.

Student Mariam Ibrahim is finding ways to overcome the challenges of remote learning.

It feels like we aren’t teaching ourselves, but in a way we are. Being physically at school, there are people to help and talk to. When you’re online, you can get distracted.

Mariam Ibrahim

Freezing screens, communication present challenges

Online learning has been a learning curve for Mariam Ibrahim, 19, as she found challenges adjusting to the switch and ways to overcome it.

Ibrahim finds herself needing to study harder and put more time into her classwork since the digital switch. 

“It won’t be that hard. Just pull through it for the safety of the general public and yourself,” she said. 

Ibrahim has seen improvements in her professors’ performance this semester as teachers in the spring semester didn’t often post often in Canvas and communication was limited as reaching out to professors was difficult. 

This semester, Ibrahim finds her computer to be the disadvantage as the screen often freezes.

Ibrahim has found the expenses of textbooks and lab kits to be very costly. She had bought a lab kit for $200, but she soon got a full refund from the bookstore as she had dropped the class.

Ibrahim has found online learning to be challenging as the overload of assignments comes rushing in and she needs to wake up much earlier than her past routine for her 8 a.m. virtual class.

Ibrahim’s studying routine has changed as she finds herself checking student web sources and student emails more often. To organize and plan ahead of assignment deadlines, Ibrahim uses the Study Life app to manage all of her assignments.

Ibrahim discussed how suddenly getting into schoolwork and being bombarded by the amounts of assignments and exams are making this semester a lot of work, especially due to everything having due dates around the same time. 

“Learning online is a bit overwhelming but is a whole different experience,” she said. “It feels like we aren’t teaching ourselves, but in a way we are. Being physically at school, there are people to help and talk to. When you’re online, you can get distracted.” 

Since learning from an online platform Ibrahim has found her performance in class has improved as she has grown as a student.

“It prepares you for different ways to study information. It helps you explore different ways to get that information and find different ways to study,” Ibrahim said.

An advantage Ibrahim found during lockdown is being able to sleep more, making it more convenient for her online schedule.  

Graphics professor makes most of technology

Teaching online is not new for Paul Stephenson as he teaches Computer Graphics I, a course that depends on online programming. His experience gives him an advantage to teach his students during lockdown. 

Before lockdown, Stephenson had gained a certificate for online teaching. Never did he think it would be put into full use so soon. 

Since Stephenson’s course is based on computer art, not much has changed regarding his assignments, which were already online based. However, he reported exams have become easier, as he sees an improvement in his students scores.

“As technology grows, I’m learning new ways to present more to my students. I’m good with online teaching so far as I figure out more to present more material each week since I teach computer graphics, I love incorporating more examples,” he said.

Stephenson believes learning online can be intimidating at first, though students will be able to adapt to it as time progresses.

A challenge Stephenson has faced is guaranteeing his students are supplied with the correct computer to download the Adobe software. To overcome any software issues with computers, a list of answers in his resources section of modules is included for his students to get instant help.

Communication has become an issue as the only communication Stephenson has with his students is email and Zoom making it difficult to respond immediately when problems arise within the programming, projects or commuter issues.

“Teaching online is more prep work but I’m used to it having a web design background to convert to an online environment,” he said.

To adapt to teaching online, Stephenson introduced changes in his courses, such as incorporating Zoom meetings and video-based tutorials for Adobe programs every week by linking them to Canvas.

When Stephenson was asked if he would choose to teach on campus or continue teaching online, Stephenson explains he’d choose both. Based on learning styles, he believes it would benefit his students to have both options.

“I’ve had a core of these students since we were face to face, then as I get to know the new students I will learn what to expect,” he said.

Stephenson expects changes throughout the semester such as filming more instructional videos as he has just bought a new web camera.