In an effort to bring our readers more content during this pandemic, we’ve gotten a bit unconventional. This week, we live Tweeted (and wrote about) Jeopardy!, and now we’re going to satisfy people’s imaginations on what online college is like. After the start of spring quarter was delayed until April 6, Northwestern students are officially through one week of ~remote learning~. How is it going, you ask?
Every time I enter a Zoom class, I get reminded all over again that the things I primarily associate with the start of spring quarter (softball/baseball entering conference play and ramping up, lacrosse hitting midseason, the NCAA basketball tournaments, which could have even included Northwestern this year, getting to the big games) are not things that I can enjoy alongside of classes right now. So that’s not very fun.
School itself has ben a bit of a shock to the system, but overall a chill, relatively smooth ride so far. Can’t ask for much more than that.
My main takeaway from this week is that staring at a computer screen for five hours a day is exhausting. But overall, online classes have been manageable. It’s pretty entertaining to watch my 70-year-old professors struggle to understand a technological program as simple as Zoom and definitely gives way to some entertaining stories.
Beyond online classes, I’d say I’m most impacted by Northwestern’s decision to grade on a pass/no pass scale this quarter. For a school that normally demands such a high caliber of work and can lead to unbearable levels of stress, it’s a sobering experience when your professor dedicates half your class time to talking about your feelings and worries instead of the curriculum. If only real school could be like this too.
One day, a professor put us into virtual breakout rooms without any directions, and six of us just sat there for 20 minutes wondering if the guy knew what he did (I kid you not). Another day, a professor’s connection dropped, so after a litany of tech people joined the Zoom meeting, he ended up calling in and did his best to give a lecture while someone else shared their screen and tried to sync up the timing to the best of their ability. That’s been the more disruptive yet entertaining side of it.
The different grading system this quarter certainly takes away a lot of the intensity associated with Northwestern academics. I’m mentally looking at classes and schoolwork as a way to distract me until we can return to a semi-normal way of life.
I began this week by registering for a fifth class, in an effort to try and get one of my annoying credit requirements out of the way since Northwestern is now pass/fail. I know many other students are doing the same thing, so you can’t get on me for finding a loophole.
Not long after, I found out that not one, not two, but THREE of my online classes wouldn’t be using Zoom for online lectures. Instead, two of my professors are uploading pre-recorded lectures, and one of them is literally just posting his notes week by week for us to read.
Online classes suck.
The first week of online learning has gone somewhat smoothly, aside from the fact that there are five other people in my house who need to use the WiFi. I’m taking two English classes this quarter, one of which covers Chicago literature and has watching The Blues Brothers (the greatest movie of all time) as an assignment, so that’s a win. To pass the time outside of class, I’ve also gone on long, meandering runs around Los Angeles’s Koreatown.
The typically pleasant Southern California weather was supposed to be the one saving grace of coming back home, but it’s been nothing but overcast and raining for the most part. I was really looking forward to wearing flip flops 24/7. Other than that, I’ve consumed a ton of baseball highlights and reruns of last year’s NCAA Tournament, and my mom will probably make me watch a livestream of Easter mass on Sunday, which will then probably inspire me to rewatch all of Derry Girls.
I’ve supplanted my constant watching of NBA games with college basketball game film from this season because I’ve been producing NBA Draft content for Liberty Ballers, SB Nation’s Philadelphia 76ers Blog, as I coincidentally joined their team on the day the season was suspended.
As far as classes go, it hasn’t been too bad, and I’ve actually saved a lot of time by simply not having to spend hours walking up and down the Evanston campus each day. Some teachers abuse the privilege of Zoom to go over the allotted time slot for the class and keep lecturing, while another had us do an entire two-hour class in a Slack discussion channel. In said class, I would have been much better off to have just come back after the class and jot down what had been typed in the chat.
But beside those two hours that I’ll never get back, it’s still been a pretty good experience thus far.
Besides the fact that my classes have been beginning at 7 AM PST, as I am on the west coast, Zoom has made online classes pretty manageable for the most part. It has been a little sad when you leave the class, and you’re left alone at home, not at school, however.
There has been a lack of live TV-watching for me with the absence of sports. However, I did watch one of Northwestern’s own on College Jeopardy last night, as well as a rerun of a 2010 NBA finals game on ESPN between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics- Kobe Bryant’s fifth and final ring. It was pretty sad to see Kobe, Gigi Bryant and former NBA commissioner David Stern on that stage. Crazy to think that all three of them passed away this year.
The occurrences of a classmate forgetting to turn off mute and hearing them yawn or laugh can provide some entertainment in long classes, or seeing the different backgrounds people select for Zoom.
From purely a class standpoint, I love online school.
As a north campus resident, I do not miss the daily trek to south campus for classes at Medill. Though, with spring weather arriving, the walk may have been a bit more enjoyable. Without having to walk to classes (and devoting nearly as much attention to a grades) online classes are a huge time saver.
And truthfully, I am yet to notice a drop off in quality between online classes and in person classes.
Honestly, the idea of registering for University of Phoenix online doesn’t sound so bad to me right now. Classes go off the rails really quickly. Some teachers are disheartened. Some teachers don’t understand how to use Zoom. Some teachers are just going crazy being stuck in their house. Today my macroeconomics class ended up in a lecture about the anti-semitic history of NU. Never thought I would hear a professor use the term “goy-ish.”
Although there isn’t much drive to do schoolwork, I have effectively found a purpose. I am going to get TikTok famous. Follow @jacobbrown31 for some entertaining content (and by that I mean mediocre NU TikToks.)