A professor with his legs on the table
Image: Dasser Kamran/Fulcrum
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There is much criticism with how some professors have responded to the transition to online learning

Online classes have been hard for students and staff alike, but the lack of effort from some professors makes remote learning incredibly difficult for students. 

COVID-19 forced us into a new, far from ideal, environment. The transition to online learning was fast with only a few months to prepare for the fall semester. But regardless of time constraints, there is no excuse for the obvious lack of effort shown by a number of professors. 

It’s true that some professors may have struggled with new technology, but so do students when there are various programs to download or WiFi constraints.

Yes, it may not be easy to take a course intended to be taught in person and smoothly transition it to an online friendly format, but it’s not easy for students to follow when there’s an overwhelming amount of content to consume. Sure, it’s hard to judge the vibe of a class when cameras are off and there’s little activity in the chat, but it’s equally as hard for students to stay engaged when they’re being taught by someone who seems uninterested in what they’re teaching. 

That said, some professors have transitioned their courses online wonderfully. One of mine has created easy to follow videos where she talks us through the slides – just as she might in person. She’s given us fairly sized assignments and quizzes to gauge our understanding each week, and has offered live tutorials and discussions with herself or teaching assistants by appointment. The difference between her class and others is that you can tell she has thought about how to present the course. 

Unfortunately, that’s just one professor among many. Students are overwhelmed because lazy professors have put them in difficult positions, making school harder than it’s ever been. 

Some professors seem to have the mindset that because classes are online, it must be easier for students and choose to pile on outrageous amounts of readings and tasks. I’ve never heard of classes having as many assignments as they do now. This sort of thinking is backwards, and does nothing but overwhelm students. 

Yes, just like professors, students are at home more often than they used to be, but this doesn’t mean we all of the sudden have more hours to put towards readings or watching videos. If professors expect us to have unlimited hours to consume course content, why are there still professors taking five business days to respond to a simple email? Not to mention the professors who don’t even attend their own office hours and ignore appointment requests.

It doesn’t end there. Some professors have taken the complete opposite approach to the piles of assignments and instead are doing the absolute bare minimum to grade the class. In one of my classes, this means a 40 per cent midterm, and 60 per cent final with absolutely no room for failure. I am studying yes, but hard to follow lectures are often made harder by unrelated personal stories or interruptions from pets in the background. I couldn’t even tell you what sort of questions I think will be in the midterm for that class, so please wish me luck. 

Then there’s the professors who are literally doing nothing. Absolutely nothing. Five weeks into the semester, there are classes who have yet to do a lecture either live or asynchronous. It’s great to have lecture slides posted, but without the actual lecture or recordings, it’s nearly impossible to comprehend or learn anything. Technical issues can only be an excuse for so long and this deep into the semester, it’s unacceptable. 

I really don’t understand what professors are expecting of students right now. Clearly, there’s a lack of understanding of what students can do before they start being overwhelmed and stress leads to bad habits or unhealthy methods of study. Rather let’s start making an effort towards understanding student needs, making a fair grading structure, and finding a way to make online learning engaging. 

I am begging professors to try a little harder. There are masses of students who are struggling due to the overwhelming amount of deadlines or the heavily weighted tests. 

The way school wears down on students regularly is hard enough, but this is another level. Professors need to support students, not make their university experience harder.