A self-portrait of Grace Naify, '19, wearing a mask. The drawing was for her life drawing class at Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. (Photo courtesy of Naify)

Alumni adjust to varied systems of online learning

Forty-seven states — including California — have closed public high schools for the rest of the academic year, according to thejournal.com. Similarly, colleges have shut down and sent students back home. 

Jack Christian, ’19, said Stanford University suspended in-person classes on March 9 until the fall quarter in September and canceled the spring quarter’s final exams. Winter-quarter final exams were made optional.

Stanford continued to use grades for the winter quarter but made all classes satisfactory (C- or better)/no credit for the spring quarter to ease stress, according to Christian.

However, Christian said all online classes are held on Pacific Daylight Time, which is difficult for international students.

“The schedule for my classes remains the same as it was before the shutdown,” Christian said. “But that’s obviously a problem for a lot of students who had to go back to their homes in Asia and other parts of the world, which are (many) hours ahead or behind. So a lot of professors have opted to record their lectures and not make participation mandatory.” 

At Oregon State University in Corvallis, Bianca Hansen, ’19, said her professors are approaching online learning differently.

“Some of my labs have decided to not meet and have people work at their own pace, while other classes meet regularly,” Hansen, who’s majoring in general engineering, said in April. “Right now, I’m in the second week of the term, and my labs so far have been getting postponed. They’re pushing (them) back until they figure out how to do online labs.”

She said that, although there is less homework, she has to put more effort into adjusting to the new learning system.

“At school, it was easier to get to a class by looking at a map and finding the correct building,” Hansen said. “Now, I have to search through countless emails to find the right Zoom codes for my classes. There have been a few times where I realize I’m in the wrong class halfway through because all the codes are so disorganized.”

Josh Friedman, ’19, who attends the University of Colorado Boulder, agreed but added that keeping on task has been easier than he expected.

“I spend a lot more time actually doing work because I don’t have a lot to do at my house during the quarantine,” Friedman said. “Back in Boulder, I’d hang out with my friends or watch Netflix. Here, my options are pretty limited, so I end up doing work.”

Friedman also said professors are taking time to get used to Zoom.

“Some professors are trying, and some are definitely not,” Friedman said. “My calculus professor was good about sending us videos all of spring break, but after the school shut down, he suddenly stopped sending us videos and teaching, instead recommending Khan Academy videos.”

Luca Procida, ’19, who attends a film school at New York University, said his classes have suffered since going online.

“Some classes are cutting back on what we do generally because they are difficult to do over Zoom,” Procida said. “Class projects and presentations are obviously hard to do over Zoom, so classes are either cutting those out or shortening them.”

Grace Naify, ’19, agreed. Her art class at Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia is difficult to do.

A human anatomy study from Naify’s life drawing class. (Photo courtesy of Naify)

“I’m taking life drawing, which is the kind of class where you draw from life — the nude model kind of thing,” Naify said. “But I don’t have that at home, and the school still expects you to submit pieces. So I just look up images on my laptop or do self-portraits and studies of my hands or feet.”

However, for Nate Jakobs, ’19, online classes are “fundamentally the same” as his in-person meetings were at Pitzer College in Claremont.

“All of my classes are able to function; there’s just a lack of engagement,” Jakobs said. “But my classes still follow the exact same schedule as they did before.”

Jakobs, an outfielder on the baseball team, expressed mixed feelings about being home.

“Getting to stay home is physically relaxing, but I miss my friends because it’s just me, my brother and my parents,” Jakobs said. “I’m especially bummed out that they canceled the baseball season. However, everybody on the team is still training and exercising on their own.”

–By Arijit Trivedi

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