University prepares to shift to online learning


Sam Tapper Managing Editor

So far, this semester has felt a lot like traveling long distance by bus: everyone is fighting off feeling sick and you are desperately trying not to touch anybody.

This fall has been unlike any semester there has ever been, but that has been known. What we need to do is remember that, in the wise words of Kimberly Guilfoyle: “the worst is yet to come.”

Remember last spring, when one day we were all together on campus, then suddenly we went our separate ways for a brief break and then never came back? Well, we are just a few weeks away from that happening again, when all on-ground classrooms become remote Zoom calls. Are we really prepared to do this again?

In all fairness, the shutdown last spring came out of nowhere. While most people knew what was upon us, there was no real time to prepare. This semester, professors have had two months to prepare, but is that enough time?

I do not ask this question to be pessimistic. I ask because I am genuinely curious; because I do not know the answer. But as a student who went through the trials of last semester’s switch, I would certainly like to.

Last spring, I had a professor who referred to the final weeks of the semester as a “survive and advance” scenario, meaning both students and professors were struggling and scrambling. While loose due dates and lack of an organized class may benefit procrastinators, I am one who likes structure, and I fear that the ending to this semester will be like that of the last.

In my experience, professors who are teaching fully remote are still in no way masters in the arts of online teaching. That is in no way a fault of any of them, as they themselves have to relearn how to do their jobs. It is still a fact that reality won’t right itself in the short span of a few weeks.

On the contrary, many on-ground professors have once again gotten used to being back in-person and I wonder how the transition will be for them and their classes. It could be smooth; it could not be. But my best guess is as reliable as flipping a coin.

I am not here to say that the switch to online learning after Thanksgiving will be a complete train wreck again, but we need to be ready for this and I fear we are not.

Students and professors alike, when referring to the switch to online, speak very casually about this. We all need to be prepared and expect the unexpected, because the worst is yet to come.

Long story short: this long-distance bus ride of a semester is far from over. Metaphorically speaking, our destination is New York City, and we are only in Akron. Strap in.

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