It’s been a few weeks since SIUE has moved formerly in-person classes online, and many students hoped it would be a seamless transition. However, some people are finding that their teachers are loading on more assignments than were in the original syllabus, adding on papers and extra tests perhaps as a way to fill in the extra free time they think we have while being at home? Or maybe it’s to make extra sure that we’re understanding the material? Regardless, while almost everyone is confined to their homes, it doesn’t necessarily mean students have more free time. In fact, some students have even less free time than before.
While this change to online classes means that we no longer have to drive to campus, adding extra assignments due to that reasoning doesn’t take into effect that, now, some students have extra responsibilities to handle while being home. Whether that be taking care of their family, working more hours or simply doing more chores, some people have had to move back into an environment less conducive to learning than a school campus. There’s a lot going on in the world right now, and college students have a lot on their plate with all this change. Having extra assignments added on to their courses creates more issues.
In addition, less face-to-face interaction makes it harder for students to ask questions and get them answered in a timely manner. In fact, I’m still waiting on a response from a professor in regards to a question my group sent him a week ago. If instructors are not regularly scheduling Zoom classes (or any at all in some cases) students then have to rely on email, Blackboard or other communication methods that don’t always guarantee a quick response. In addition, a lot of meaning in words can be lost when sent over email, creating more questions than they answer and leading to an even longer delay in getting your question answered. This has, in some students, led to a sense of having to self-teach themselves the material.
I have a number of friends and coworkers who have discussed with me the amount of assignments that have been added on to their syllabus, with one of them saying in one particular week he had 12 assignments, all for one class alone. Another one mentioned that he’s talked with people in all of his classes, and many of them are saying the same thing: they’re all receiving a bigger workload despite having the same amount of time or even less time than before moving online. Being on campus gave some students time to work on their homework they wouldn’t have when they’re back home. After all, students are now on different schedules and can’t easily meet with their groups anymore due to new obligations, and loading on more assignments creates an obstacle for them.
With the loss of campus resources such as easy access to teachers, the library and tutoring facilities, many students may find it tougher to get a grasp on certain concepts in the lessons. What teachers should try and do is, instead of increasing the amount of work, lighten the workload and put a bigger emphasis on making sure the students understand the key concepts being taught. Something one of my teachers did to help with that is they set up a specific time they’d be available during the week on Blackboard, opening up a discussion thread where we were able to ask questions and receive answers right there. It’s more important now than ever to have teachers who will actively work with students to actually teach them the material, rather than just slapping some assignments on Blackboard with a due date. After all, we’re paying to receive knowledge, not worksheets.