Even if we are apart, we continue our academic endeavors together!
The Spring 2020 semester was a particularly challenging but unique experience for most, if not all, our students. Even as we continue into our Fall 2020 semester, we continue to feel the aftereffects as many students, professors, and faculty are scattered across the globe, unable to return to campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the border regulations instilled by many countries for public safety reasons.
Thankfully in a technologically advanced and globalized era, students were able to take their courses through online platforms such as Zoom, Canvas, WeChat, and the later addition of Tencent Meetings (Voov). The utilization of online tools reduced the need for travel and the gathering of students in a single classroom during the outbreak’s most crucial periods which proved to be the optimal solution with consideration for students’ and faculty’s health and safety. Students were able to continue their studies in virtual classrooms and avoid delaying their journey towards graduation.
“Zoom opens up a more multi-faceted way of learning.” –’19 SMC master’s student
While the use of online platforms was the most suitable solution at the time, online learning was not without bumps along the road. It was a learning experience for both students as well as professors, many who were using these platforms for the first time. Professors often had to experiment with multiple platforms to find the ideal combination of tools to teach their courses. For example, some students found Canvas live streaming classes to be particularly limiting since students were unable to voice their opinions or interact with their offline classmates. Others found certain platforms such as Voov to have poorer connections in certain countries.
Many overseas students were also faced with difficulties such as time difference and lack of motivation which required them to make adjustments and compromises for the sake of continuing education. For many of our European and North/South American students, classes were sometimes scheduled in the early hours of the morning or late into the night due to the course schedules following Beijing time. Despite so, students made great efforts to adjust their daily schedules to attend classes punctually with their classmates. Professors made attempts to adjust class times for the majority and offered flexibility for those with difficulties. Other students made comments about the lack of motivation outside of the school environment. Although students were scattered across the world, each offered their words of support and positivity amidst the unfortunate situation. Despite the difficulties students bound together to overcome the obstacles and maintain a positive attitude toward furthering their studies.
This period of experimenting and adjusting to find the ideal combination required a high level of cooperation and compromise between the professors, students, and college faculty. Thus, we are thankful for dedication and efforts of all parties who have enabled us to successfully hold an online semester due to the sudden turn of events! We continue to collect student and faculty feedback in hopes of improving the learning and teaching experience.
Just as countries are coming together to develop treatments and vaccines to combat the virus, our international students and SMC faculty have come together to ensure our students can receive the highest quality education despite the obstacles!
(Written by Megan Dai. Edited by Lutong Zhang)