Photo by Pixabay user ID 12019, used under a Creative Commons license)
Ahh yes, two months from law school graduation. You’ve made it this far. What could stand between you and your degree? Enter the year 2020 and with it a global pandemic.
In a matter of a few days, Howard University went from having graduation and in-person classes to no ceremony and a completely virtual schedule. When COVID-19 came to the U.S. and the fear of rapid spread began to increase, canceling in-person classes and moving them online was the only way to finish the semester. The graduation and hooding cancellation was one thing, but to transition to online courses that have never been taught virtually became increasingly daunting.
Howard decided to task the professors with the job of determining how to transition their lecture hall-style courses online while still keeping the students engaged and accounted for. In my experience, online courses allow for extreme laziness and lackluster teaching, hence my restraint from taking more than one online class in my whole undergrad experience at Michigan State University.
Howard, like most law schools, does not offer law courses online, and for good reason. Law happens to be quite difficult to learn in general, but then when you move the courses online to a method of learning that the professors and students are equally confused by, you end up with a disconnect.
As much as we want to have faith in our professors and ourselves, I did not and do not have the most faith, especially in myself. As a graduating third-year law student in my final months, online learning has been hard for me, partially because I lack the discipline necessary to fully dedicate myself to a virtual class, but also because a few of my professors had never taught with any technology in their normal classes. To expect that the professors have the ability and capacity to move all of their courses online and still be an effective educator is a high standard.
I feel as though I have not only been slighted because I now have to take classes virtually, but the burden to have professors move things online has caused them to spend an exorbitant amount of time transitioning the class to a virtual method that works for them. Now I have three classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays consisting of Zoom sessions with the largest class being 65 students and one professor.
It is overwhelming; even with our microphones on mute, the distractions are all around. I am thankful that my professors themselves are overall incredible educators, but I do not feel as though I am getting the same learning experience that I have had up until this point. The introduction of technology to teach courses is helpful when it is an option, but when it becomes a necessity it is not as user-friendly.
While I am thankful to be healthy and able to continue classes, the transition has not been kind to those who do not learn well via computers and Zoom sessions.
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