As the first full week of online classes at Binghamton University ended, many students said they are facing difficulties adjusting to the new style of learning, with some struggling to remain motivated.
Since BU transitioned to distance learning on March 19, classes have been occurring in a variety of different formats. Some classes, such as Economics 160: Principles of Microeconomics and Biology 114: Intro to Organisms & Populations Biology, are now taught through prerecorded lectures, while others are being taught live via Zoom.
Students are having a variety of reactions to the transition. Polina Rudshtein, a junior majoring in economics, said she finds it difficult to keep up in her content-heavy lecture classes.
“Normally, a lecture would be very substance heavy and then we would go home and review the notes,” Rudshtein said. “Now, it’s difficult to even take down notes in the first place, and it’s resulted in a lot of self-teaching. A lot of teachers are having a difficult time transitioning and the trouble they have is reflected in their teaching.”
Although Rudshtein finds her lectures more difficult to follow online, she said her smaller, discussion-focused classes have been easier to adjust to.
“I’m taking a literature course, as well as a Russian course, and I’m finding that it’s pretty much the same, if not easier,” Rudshtein said. “Most of the class time when we have in-person classes, they are spent discussing matters and listening to the teacher anyway, and we’ve been able to do that just fine with Zoom. The important thing is that with small classes, they stay interactive.”
Dustin Sun, a sophomore majoring in biology, said he believes people are less motivated to do work now that classes have moved online and students are scattered across New York state. He opted to stay on campus, a decision he hopes will help him do better in class.
“All my friends are staying here, and I think it’s better to stay here to focus on schoolwork because back home there is no motivation,” Sun said. “I think a ton of people will pass-fail their major classes because at home they’re not motivated and most of them are not even allowed to go out of their house.”
Sun also said the temptation of browsing social media, texting friends or watching lectures later is strong for many students studying from a distance.
“Everyone mutes the teacher, and everyone is texting their friends on the side,” Sun said. “The lectures are all recorded, so you might as well be there with your camera on, but not pay attention and then just watch the lectures before the test. They should honestly just cancel the semester.”
Neal Patel, a sophomore majoring in economics, also said he finds plenty of distractions during Zoom classes.
“Zoom has been pretty ineffective because I tend to fall asleep or go on YouTube and mute my teacher,” Patel said. “It doesn’t make it engaging because it lets students do other things, which leads to procrastination. These students are in an atmosphere which is not very studious, like some students are laying in their beds, which does not create a good atmosphere for studying.”
Nevertheless, Patel, who has previously taken online classes, said the transition has been mostly easy for him. He noted he has been getting more sleep than usual because he does not have to spend time commuting to class.
“Not waking up to go to class has really impacted my circadian rhythm by giving me five more hours of leisure time that would have been taken up by walking to class and other daily activities,” Patel said.
Additionally, many research labs have frozen hands-on work, leaving students without facilities to pursue their projects. Amalia Sulk, a member of the First-Year Research Immersion (FRI) program’s environmental visualization with drones stream and a freshman majoring in environmental studies, said she misses the in-person parts of the FRI lab.
“My FRI lab was mainly on the computer anyway, so I just had to download some programs, but we’re not being able to fly drones anymore, which is a bit sad,” Sulk said. “Our professor has been very understanding of this whole situation, though. Other than that, it’s been kind of hard to adjust to online classes and stay motivated, but I’m trying my best to do as much as I can.”
Like Sulk, Hannah Nahavandi, a sophomore majoring in integrative neuroscience, said she appreciates the effort professors have made to make classes easier for students.
“My online classes have enabled me to have a later wake-up time and therefore more regular sleep schedule since my 9:40 a.m. class became recorded lectures, and made my most boring class more manageable because the teacher is more bored and now is putting in fun facts and trying to make it interesting for us,” Nahavandi said. “Office hours are more organized and helpful than ever because of accessibility. Also, I feel like they are trying very hard not to pile work on us, which has given me a more equal distribution of work.”