The school announced that it would transition all of its courses online for the first four weeks of the semester. However, the start of online classes did not flow as smoothly as expected.
On the first day, March 16, many students complained regarding late posts of notices from instructors and malfunctioning videos on Cyber Campus.
Many if not all of the students across diverse majors and grades have been adversely affected. One such student, Li Su-jung, a senior in the Department of Educational Technology shared her opinions in an interview with Ewha Voice.
“It was very startling for us to accept the school’s sudden announcement requiring us to conduct our teaching demonstrations on livestream video,” she said. “Moreover, the continually changing semester schedule has left many of us preparing for teacher fieldwork highly anxious. I have also noticed that the lack of student-professor interaction prevents effective learning, even in lecture-based courses.”
Furthermore, Cyber Campus has been prone to crashing or being in a lag due to an overload of users and videos. Other technical difficulties have presented themselves in various forms.
Depending on the instructor ’s preference, classes were led through pre-recorded videos, livestream videos, or online meetings utilizing external programs such as Google Meet and Cisco Webex.
These include failure to connect on external platforms such as WebEx or the quick progression of online classes, obstructing students from asking questions when they wish to.
On the Cyber Campus Q&A board, 243 inquiries regarding the system has been posted since the start of the online semester to March 24.
Online system hinders course delivery
The Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning (CETL) which manages Cyber Campus has been keeping up with responding to individual queries from students and working on larger, macroscopic issues regarding the website.
In the first notice which was posted on March 16, CETL notified instructors that they are limited to uploading videos of only up to 20 megabytes. This caused the videos to either be cut off in the middle or, for larger sized ones failure to even upload at all on the website.
When Ewha Voice contacted CETL they responded that their current priority for the first two weeks of the semester was to prevent any further system failures and focus on the delivery of online lectures. They declined to further comment on the website until conditions are normalized.
Malfunctioning of the school system was just one part of the many issues that came along with the extension of the online lectures. Regarding practical and experimental classes, the first two weeks were led through pre-recorded videos on safety and course introduction. However, with two more weeks more online, professors had to change the curriculum.
For Organic Chemistry Laboratory I, the decisions made by the professors were to supplement the lab with additional learning activities. These include directing students to online videos regarding the lab experiments and techniques, writing lab reports or quizzes based on data collected by teacher assistants, and combining two topics in one lab session.
“In a ‘normal’ semester, this lab course consists of 10 experiments over the 15-week semester,” said Professor Jean Bouffard from the Department of Chemistry and Nanoscience. “For most lab sections, we will be able to perform the same 10 experiments even if the schedule has to be more compressed.”
Professor Bouffard also mentioned that this extension will result in lab days running late beyond the assigned two class periods. With the changed schedule, the introduction to the lab, check-in, and safety instructions will happen on the same day as the first lab experiment, to be held on the first week back.