Week One: Students Adjusting to Remote Learning and Isolation

April 7, 2020
By: Worcester State University News

Students are working to adjust to the remote learning plan set in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic after their return from the extended spring break. With the change from traditional classroom meetings to online classes, students are finding varying degrees of success in transitioning to remote learning in isolation.

Emily Costa, a sophomore elementary education major, has found that she and her professors have transitioned smoothly into remote learning, and have managed to make it seem “normal.” Her professors post notes prior to their Zoom sessions, which Costa says were “a little awkward at first and definitely took some time to get used to.”

“I am just fine with the isolation, but the most challenging part is having five people in my house all the time,” Costa says.

Of those five, four work from home full time, while her father goes to work twice a week. Each member has their own room with a desk to work in, so they do not have to struggle over their workspaces.

Rebekah Riley, a junior occupational therapy major, has always considered herself a visual learner and feels she learns best in a classroom setting, so she has never taken an online class before.

“Originally, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I found out that all of my classes would be online,” she says. “However, I feel that my professors have provided many visual aids such as PowerPoints with voice overs and have made all assignments due over Blackboard with clear instructions.”

Riley remains positive in the face of the pandemic, choosing to use this time to spend time with her family, though she misses “seeing many friendly faces across campus.” Her immediate family, which consists of her mother, father, and younger brother, are all working or doing schoolwork from home. Despite the number of people all working in the house, they have been able to work without getting in each other’s way, she says, as she studies in her room “to escape all of the noise.”

Dominique Alves, a junior nursing student, has been keeping busy with her schoolwork in order to cope with the isolation required by the pandemic. She has been surprised by the different methods that can be used to teach online.

“In my program, one of the major problems was how to make up for clinicals, and it was awesome to see all the virtual simulations online that do a good job in replacement,” Alves says.

However, she finds it challenging to get her work done at home, because she normally goes home to take a break from school. Alves does her homework in bed with a lapdesk, while her mother, who is also working from home, works in another room.

Alyson Langhorst is a sophomore who finds that isolation has forced her to readjust her schedule.

“I think that being on campus, having a job, and being on the tennis team automatically made my schedule balanced,” she says. “There were clear-cut times when I had to do certain things, whereas when I’m at home, I have to create my own schedule and really manage my time well.”

The abrupt ending of the spring tennis season was trying for Langhorst, because she was “really looking forward to the practices, matches, and just being with the team.”

Morgan Brogie’s remote learning experiences have varied depending on the class, because while some of her professors are “great about having Zoom classes and online office hours,” others are not offering live classes with the same level of support, the senior public health major says.

Not being able to see her friends has been another source of stress for Brogie. Both she and her mother are working two jobs remotely, and they both work in the family room, though as the weather gets nicer, they plan to work outside.

“The one challenging part of this is if we both have to take a conference call, it’s difficult to find a quiet space,” Brogie says.

Emma Collings, a junior business administration and economics major, has found online learning to be “a lot more difficult than normal online classes because we are stuck at home.” Two of her classes use Zoom, while another uses pre-recorded lectures, though she says she “would prefer a live Zoom class because it’s a hard subject and I like to ask questions.”

Isolation has been very hard to cope with for Collings, as she finds it difficult not being able to leave the house and see her friends.

All three of the other members of Collings’ household are also working from home, though they each have their own desks, so they “have the luxury to not be on top of each other as we work,” she says.

Charlotte Mullane, a sophomore public health major, finds her assignment deadlines to be reasonable, since she is no longer working or doing extracurricular activities.

“I’ve been surprised by how many resources we have from campus in regards to online learning,” she says. “For example, the online library database, the writing center staff, and Blackboard tools.”

While unable to leave her house, Mullane has been coping with isolation by following a routine each day that involves time for schoolwork, exercise, calls to friends, movies, and relaxing. She has also been able to “stay connected online with [her] church for encouragement and community.”

Mullane and her sister both work from home at their own desks, while both of her parents work at a hospital and are gone most days.

“It’s definitely stressful for them and us, because we’re home all day and they come home exhausted,” she says. “It’s also stressful knowing they are exposed to the virus each day, so we have to be super cautious at home to not get sick.”

Samantha Sealey, a senior with a double major in early childhood education and psychology, is familiar with online classes, and has not been particularly surprised during the switch to online learning. The isolation is what Sealey has found challenging.

“Some days the isolation is fine. Other days, I am a mess because I miss students, I miss my friends, I miss my extended family, I miss my grandma,” she says.

She expected there to be more tension with her family of five “trapped in the house together,” but everything has gone well so far. While she does her schoolwork upstairs in her room, her mother has had to set up a workspace in the living room.

Monika Mularski, a junior majoring in communication sciences and disorders, was expecting her workload to increase with the move to online, but was surprised to find that there was not much of a change.

In coping with isolation, Mularski has turned to baking. She has been making many cookies to pass the time and be productive.

“I feel like I have way too much time on my hands and I feel like I’m wasting my life away sitting in my house,” she says. “I’m trying my best to do things to make myself be more productive.”

Mularski and her parents are all working from home, though she works in her room while they work in the living room.

Lauren Taylor, a senior psychology major, is “very close to her family, so being able to spend this time with them is making it easier to cope.” Her father is a firefighter, so “he is currently on the front line battling this pandemic.” He has been really good about taking precautions to keep his family safe, despite not having been provided with proper protective gear to wear while working.

Taylor has found online learning easier than she expected, but as a senior student-athlete, the ending of her spring season has been challenging.

“Being a student-athlete is a huge part of who I am and it’s been hard for me to accept that my spring season was cut short and that I’m missing the end-of-the-year athletic banquet,” she says. “My four years at WSU has come to an end. It certainly ended in a way that was not expected but I’m trying to stay positive.”

Written by Victoria Konicki

One Comment

  1. Lyn says:

    Love this article on how students are doing.

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