In Spring 2020, thousands of U.S students began learning through computers at home. Various resources such as Zoom made this possible, but also more complicated. Here, a compilation of the pros and cons brought about in the Zoom classroom.
This is my senior year, and second semester of online learning. Here in my room I’ve been doing the best I can with what I have. These recent semesters have been fundamentally different. I’m not part of any organizations, I’m no longer an RA at Falls-Sayers Hall, I don’t have access to Alkek and a number of other resources. It’s different, but it’s working for now. Emily is my sister, and Fall 2020 is her first semester. She had been looking forward to UNT all her senior year at high school, had collected a number of appliances, and was even regularly texting her roommate. Now her first experience at university is from the same room she’s lived in, with the same rules and expectations, and none of the fun stories she’d heard for the past three years. My own workspace is somewhat cluttered. I have trinkets I didn’t put up, an old lamp I’ve used once, and my xbox one doubles as a stand for my laptop and the binder I keep under it for cooling purposes. I don’t have a place for a notebook, not that I take notes anyways. It just never really caught on for online learning, and there are recordings and pictures of the most important pieces anyways. Emily has a smaller desk in her room than I, and has been more active with other projects. She’s gotten into making miniatures out of clay, and could probably get into selling some of them as a side job. She’s never let that take her out of her work though, as her sprawled notes show. I do enjoy my Chromebook, but it has a number of drawbacks that have come forward during online learning. I lack word docs, any serious software for classes, and Zoom is finicky about ChromeOS, as are some other sites. When all else fails, I know I can go to this cramped corner of our kitchen and use the family PC, a slow running computer that’s already caused two late assignments, but it works when the Chromebook can’t. Emily has a whiteboard in her room that’s been up since we moved here about three years ago. Now she’s using it as a planner, and in-depth at that. She has a system of assigning severity to homework depending on how close the due-date is, among other features. She’s only forgotten about a class once. The source of our family’s internet connection, and a number of issues we’ve faced with online learning. We have decent internet, it runs well but has its days. Still, it’s not great with Zoom, and lag there and with online learning overall has been challenging at times. These headphones belong to Emily. She bought them at the beginning of the semester since her old earbuds were no good, but also figured she could use these for gaming. It’s been difficult to get into and out of the learning and resting mindsets when your classroom is also your room. When the local news did a story on how microwaves can affect internet connection, I and Emily thought it was kind of funny. It turns out, we simply hadn’t had the microwave run while we were in class. Since the internet cut out in the middle of a PR class I had in August, we’ve had schedules up to keep the internet running as smooth as possible during a class. I don’t know if we get to call ourselves properly rural. The nearest HEB is more than a half-hour drive, so I feel like we San Antonians may call Kyle rural. For all the beautiful scenery and quiet we’ve enjoyed, online learning has created a number of issues for us. I and my sister can’t go and find MOS interviews easily, but it’s preferable we don’t anyways. San Antonio had landmarks and raw story potential that this small town lacks, but I suppose we weren’t going out often anyways. Maybe some of our issues are just dependent on the region.