Zoom open on a laptop
It's hella confusing to be honest. Image: Hailey Otten/Fulcrum
Reading Time: 2 minutes

I’m even more confused now than I was in my first two years. Why won’t the University of Ottawa streamline communications?

When I came back to Ottawa this year, I knew things would be different. But, I was also really excited to be back in lecture halls and classrooms. It’s been only a month and I can honestly confirm that I am still confused about what time my classes are and when my assignments are due. 

I was a freshman in 2019, so I was lucky enough to experience university the way it used to be: in person, no masks, Brightspace being the main (read: only) platform for course content, and making appointments to speak with your professors in their offices. The good old days!

My second year, while very different, still had some consistency. Everything was online. Sure, some professors decided to make their course asynchronous, while others had synchronous Zoom classes at set scheduled times. But still, everything was online. It was a big transition, going from in-person to online. Despite some technical difficulties, I’m proud of how quickly I was able to adapt. 

Now I’m in my third year. Having experienced both in-person and online classes, I can confidently say that this has been the most exhausting year of my academic career — and it’s only been a month. 

I’m not sure exactly what the University of Ottawa’s plan or thought process was, but having “30-50 per cent” of classes in person, and the rest online, is making me lose my mind. 

I can’t seem to remember which classes are in-person and which are just on Brightspace. Some professors don’t even use Brightspace, just emails. This makes it extremely hard for me to stay organized. I’ve spent more time trying to organize my courses than I have actually doing my readings. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way.

Bayza Woldenariam, in her second year of biomedical mechanical engineering, said the different platforms for communications between professors and students were stressful at first. 

“Obviously, it’d be nice if it was all through Zoom only because like, Zoom is like already on Brightspace,” said Woldenariam.

This whole hybrid learning transition has been really difficult for everyone. I was hoping the 2020-2021 academic year would allow the University of Ottawa to figure out what works and what doesn’t. However, I still feel like a guinea pig being poked and prodded in the U of O’s STEM building from the comfort of my own home — 50 to 70 per cent of the time, that is. Why can’t they decide on one platform? Zoom, Adobe Connect, MS Teams, Skype — every professor uses something different, and it only creates chaos.

I don’t even blame my professors. It is time for the University of Ottawa to buckle down and create a functional system. It is integral for universities to set a precedent on what platforms are to be used for online courses. For example, just using Zoom, as Woldenariam mentioned. This way, all professors will only have to familiarize themselves with one platform and they can continue to communicate the course content through Brightspace, even if classes are in-person. It would make things so much easier — for students and professors!