College students face challenges with distance learning

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The COVID-19 outbreak left college students feeling like they had bigger workloads and a lack of motivation as universities made the transition to distance learning. 

On March 6, the University of Washington became the first major university to shift to online instruction for the remainder of the semester. By the middle of March, during the height of spring break season, more than 1,100 colleges and universities in all 50 states had made the switch to distance learning. 

Online instruction introduced a new set of challenges for students. 

Gabi Gremillion, a sophomore architecture major at the University of Texas at Austin, said the amount of work she’s getting seems to be occupying nearly all of her time in quarantine. 

“I don’t think I could do this level of work if I were in actual college right now,” Gremillion said. “I don’t have a lot of time for things other than schoolwork right now, and that’s weird because it’s the only thing I’m doing.”

Carissa Demma, a sophomore communications major at the University of Arkansas, said that although some professors are sympathetic to the new work environments many students are in, she also has professors who are going in the opposite direction. 

“I think they feel like they have to make up for the fact that students aren’t physically in the classroom, and their solution to that is giving us more work so we aren’t just logging on every three weeks to take an exam,” Demma said.

In addition to the increased workload, Demma said she’s also struggled with being productive in quarantine, surrounded by distractions at home. 

“Obviously it’s no fault of my family,” Demma said, “but when you live with three other people again, and your mom and dad are working from home, and they’re both taking conference calls all day, it can be hard to find somewhere quiet.” 

In terms of Gremillion’s online experience, she said, “no one really knows how to do it, and all of the teachers have to prepare their classes in two weeks, which is probably hard for them.”

UT is offering courses online for the remainder of the semester and announced April 1 that all summer session classes would also be online.

The University of Arkansas also announced April 7 that all summer school sessions through Aug. 8 will be conducted online.