Students share online learning experiences

When students went home for spring break back in March, no one could have anticipated the events that happened worldwide due to the cause of the coronavirus outbreak. As new developments have unfolded nationally, statewide and citywide, many students who went home have been unable to move back to Nacogdoches in their apartments and on campus. Only taking a week’s worth of clothes and belongings, many students have been forced to wait until it is safe for them to return to campus or leave their homes to gather their things. With SFA as well as universities across the country, transitioning to an online-only format, students are being forced to finish out the semester online, mostly through Zoom video sessions with professors and through content posted on SFA’s D2L. We reached out to a few SFA students to see how COVID-19 has been affecting them and their schoolwork. These are their stories.

Interview 1: Danica Sauter, senior mass communication major from Houston

“I live on the outskirts of Nacogdoches because both of my parents’ houses don't have WiFi. I've been having issues and technical issues because of where I live. On the outskirts and in the country, people aren't able to get WiFi, so I have been using my phone service. My mom and stepdad flip houses, [so] they mostly live in the newer house they're renovating. My dad and stepmom live in an overcrowded house and don't really have space for me. With the closing of the school and both libraries in town, it was hard. And it still is hard because I'm not working so I can't afford gas. [In] one of my classes, I also have to edit videos and upload them onto YouTube. My computer was having issues, but now all seems to be working.”

Interview 2: Ashlynn Stamps, freshman social work major from Nacogdoches

“I'm a complete mess. This is my first semester, and I'm on the verge of a complete meltdown. My name is Ashlynn Stamps, social work major, my hometown is Nacogdoches, and technically I'm a freshman, but that's a complicated story. If my credits transferred, I'd be a junior. I used to go to Panola in Carthage, Texas, and I did fine there with classes both in person and online, but this is beyond me. I'm taking a sociology class, an ethics class, a social welfare class, and an English class. I was doing perfectly fine when the classes were in person! But once they switched online, I've been having so much difficulty, like I'm sick to my stomach over nerves and stress. My classes are ones meant for being in person and learning in an online format is beyond what I'm capable [of,] and I know I'm going to fail. I don't understand D2L in the first place, so I've missed a lot already and don't really know how I'm going to pass. It’s really discouraging. I wish we could get a partial refund or have the option Texas A&M gave their students, which was to continue their classes online or take a passing grade. I probably will not continue at SFA after this. I'm completely devastated. I know I can be successful but not in this format.”

Interview 3: Emma Blinn, junior nursing major from Arlington

“I think the hardest thing about switching to online is not being able to participate in clinicals. We are missing out on key experiences to further our education and applying what we learn in lecture to the real world. Besides that, our lectures are normally three hours long so using Zoom isn’t an option for us. Our professors have decided to use discussion boards for us to ask questions, but it doesn’t have the same feel as if it were in class. Yes, this sucks right now, but my biggest fear is not being prepared for next semester. We are going to be working with ICU patients next semester (which in itself is terrifying), but we have only gotten four to six days of being on the hospital floor this semester to prepare us for the fall. Our professors have gone above and beyond with trying to accommodate us and prepare us. It just isn’t the same, and we are missing out on key interactions with patients and experiences within the hospital to prepare us for our future.”

  • Anonymous student

“Honestly, the transition has been very difficult, not only for me but for some of my professors. I had two professors who never posted on D2L and now they’re struggling to post anything there, so they email us everything. I was already struggling with some in person classes and I was using the AARC because it helped me stay afloat with my grades and now, I don’t even have that. To be honest, all of this would be a lot easier if I had WiFi and better internet access, but I don’t. I live in a very low-income neighborhood and household. We have never had WiFi, ever. And the only company that provides WiFi for my neighborhood is too expensive for my family. My mom is trying to save up money to try and get WiFi here at home, but now she may have to stop going to work because of how many cases have been confirmed here. She works taking care of an elderly lady and the daughter of the lady was talking to my mom and told her that she may have stop working for a month or two because she doesn’t want to risk her mother getting ill. My sister and I have applied to work at night at Walmart and HEB to get money to get WiFi, but I’m nervous about having a job at night and then online school during the day. I already had to drop a class that I knew I would fail because I was already doing bad in it. My computer crashed two days ago, and I’ve been doing all my work and Zoom classes on my phone. Honestly it’s not that bad because that’s how I got through high school. But like I said before, I don’t have the greatest signal here, so when we’re having classes on Zoom it always cuts off, and it’s frustrating because I miss half of the lecture. I haven’t talked to my professors about it because I [feel that] they will think I’m lying. Everything has been super stressful, and I considered withdrawing for the entire semester because I feel like I’m going to fail. Dealing with online classes has been very, very difficult, and I can imagine it [only] getting worse.”

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