Distance learning presents students with a number of disadvantages

by Shalika Oza, Staff Writer

With San Diego State scaling back operations this March – stopping all but essential research and transitioning the majority of classes online – due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students moved back home with hopes that by August, the government would have successfully handled this pandemic. 

As time progressed, it became clear this wouldn’t be the case, and students no longer held onto the hope they would be able to return to campus in the fall. 

The nail in the coffin was the announcement that many CSU’s and UC’s were switching to completely online instruction and the announcement of SDSU Flex.

While SDSU kept in mind the need to social distance and flatten the curve when creating a mostly distance learning plan for the fall semester, it seems the university never considered the factor of accessibility.

Many students who were hoping for a return to campus also relied on the resources offered on campus. When campus closed in March, many of my student-created GroupMe’s began to fill up with complaints of students not being able to handle the sudden switch to online classes. 

Some in part due to not liking the new plan of action, and some in part because they did not have access to the technology required to continue classes online.

In my efforts to search for what resources SDSU is offering in terms of technology, I found that through the Economic Crisis Response Team (ECRT) website, laptop checkouts are available through the library’s technology services checkout

Only after navigating to two separate pages can students find a link to information about ECRT resources listed on SDSU’s central coronavirus webpage. Although SDSU has sent emails about resources and has provided information on SDSU NewsCenter, it’s disappointing that ECRT is mentioned deep in the university’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage and not on the main page where students are told to turn to first. 

This is an issue for many reasons, but most importantly, not everyone is aware of the ECRT and all they can do. 

Other issues stem from the fact that not all SDSU students have chosen to move back to San Diego. This laptop checkout is only available to students who can pick up laptops in-person at the library.

Ultimately, the university’s fall 2020 plans seem to be trying to save face rather than actually aiding students through these trying times. 

Furthermore, the university’s decision to continue using both Blackboard and Canvas disadvantaged students even more by forcing them to keep track of classes on multiple platforms. The outcome will likely result in students forgetting when and where to turn in assignments, damaging GPA’s. 

With CSU continuing virtual learning through spring 2021, SDSU is working on a plan, it’s unclear whether any changes will be made to increase accessibility for students. 

Some students have expressed they want to take a leave of absence next semester.

For third-year Journalism and Advertising major, Sisi Simo this is something she is considering after these first few weeks of online classes have proved challenging.

“Distance education has for sure affected my equality of learning,” Simo said. “The way that I retain information doesn’t really work using this online platform. I’m more stressed about missing a due date and not understanding an assignment than I am about actually learning information that I need for my career.” 

Also among Simo’s concerns is the cost of an online semester when the value is not the same. 

“I feel like the amount of money I am paying is not worth the quality of education I am receiving,” Simo said. “I genuinely enjoy learning and I like accumulating knowledge but now all I do is sit behind a screen for 5 hours a day not learning a thing.”

I admit I joke about taking a leave of absence occasionally, but for me it isn’t realistic due to other life circumstances. While it may be an option for Simo, it was clear that she does not really want to take time off school.

SDSU students deserve better. 

We shouldn’t have to sacrifice our quality of education because the university fails to provide information properly about resources available to us or insists on using us as guinea pigs for testing virtual learning platforms. 

We shouldn’t have to sacrifice our quality of education at all. 

Unfortunately, SDSU is showing that it cares less about their students and more about saving face. 

Shalika Oza is a junior studying journalism and public relations. Follow her on Twitter @shalikaoza.

 

Correction: An earlier version of this article mischaracterized SDSU’s move to online instruction in March 2020. SDSU never closed and continues to offer limited courses, facilitate research and maintain campus spaces. Additionally, the original article stated that SDSU’s COVID-19 webpage did not mention resources associated with the Economic Crisis Response Team (ECRT) this is not the case. This information is available under the “support for students” page which can be found after following a link to “information for students.” The Daily Aztec regrets these errors.

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