By Shari Berg
It seems like years since college students were hanging out with their friends on campus, attending lectures and brainstorming with classmates on group projects. In reality, it has been about six weeks since most college campuses ordered students off-campus, relegating them to remote learning for the remainder of the semester.
College students used to the crowded lecture halls and packed classrooms are scrambling to maintain work productivity from the confines of their off-campus homes. Some are doing better with it than others. And, just like their K-12 counterparts, some colleges and universities were ill-prepared to engage in remote learning.
Chris F., a first-year student attending a private research university, said the transition to online courses has been very difficult for him given his area of concentration. “Industrial design is such a collaborative major and career,” he said, which does not translate well into online learning. Chris said he understands the transition to online teaching is a difficult process – especially when done without the benefit of much time to prepare in advance – but he is disappointed in the difference between what he is now receiving online versus what he was receiving in the classroom.
“The hardest part of the transition to online courses has been receiving feedback on projects,” he said. “In a studio atmosphere, you are constantly receiving critique that is needed to improve as a designer. Now, feedback is only given at the end of the process.”
To compensate for the fact that he is not receiving the ongoing feedback in the classroom, Chris has turned to his online design community for collaboration. He has used the online community when previously working on side projects and creative experiments in the past as has found it a tremendous resource. “I have been able to talk with professionals and receive meaningful feedback on my works in progress. A great deal of my education has come from these online critiques of my work.”
Chris said while it is frustrating, he advises his fellow students in creative careers to use this time of isolation to experiment and try new ways of working. A few weeks ago, Chris began designing a planter. “With this project, I have used new tools like Virtual Reality along with paper modeling as a form of idea generation and prototyping. Also, try to find a balance between work and life that is healthy and that you are happy with.”
Tips for Colleges
Colleges and universities need to do their best to help students navigate through these unprecedented times. Validation is important. Students are reeling from a sense of loss that goes beyond the transition of classroom learning to virtual learning.
Reaching out for Help
If remote learning just isn’t going well for you, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
College students sometimes need a little extra help, even when we are not in the middle of a global pandemic that has shut down life as they know it.
Tutors are a great resource during these difficult times. In keeping with the guidelines for social distancing, most tutoring lessons can be conducted online. Interested in learning more about how a tutor can help? Check out some of these online tutoring resources:
Shari L. Berg is the owner/operator of The Write Reflection, and a writing professional for over 20 years.