Adapting to the new normal: a personal experience.
It happened so quickly. One day I was going to classes on campus as usual, the next day my business in context professor was instructing us on how to use Microsoft teams and informing us that there was a government mandated lockdown that meant we wouldn’t be returning to campus for the foreseeable future. Then suddenly, I was attending economics classes at home in my pyjamas.
Luckily, UCLan Cyprus staff made it a relatively easy transition. A large portion of the credit must go to the technology of course. The University informed us that we would be using Microsoft Teams to attend classes and sent us a comprehensive how-to guide via email. Each teacher emailed their students with instructions on how to join their team. Tests were taken either through teams, via email or using the Respondus Lockdown Browser which simulates real life test conditions and records test takers.
Eventually, everyone adapted fairly quickly. Microsoft teams made lessons almost seamless. We could see our professors, watch their screens, interact with our classmates and participate in classes easily. At least, it was an interesting experience I could say. I certainly never expected for my first semester to be taught online, but it was undoubtedly the best decision to take as the rate of COVID -19 cases in Cyprus is now relatively low compared to other countries who were slow to go into lockdown.
On reflection, I would say that the hardest part of adjusting was regulating myself. In a way, being able to take classes from the comfort of my own home made me somewhat lazier. It’s easier to concentrate when you’re in a class full of your peers and interacting with them in person. Not to mention when the teacher is right in front of you and will be able to tell if you’re not. But when you’re on your own, taking classes in your bed from the same computer you’ve bookmarked Netflix on, it seems like a Herculean task. I managed it by tricking myself into feeling like I wasn’t at home. I took a shower in the morning, sat on a desk most of the day and made frequent use of my balcony.
Overall, this experience has been enlightening. It has shown us just what can be achieved with technology. Education doesn’t have to be limited to the confines of the classroom. Online teaching can be just as effective and may be adopted by other institutions. Personally though, I really miss going to the University and interacting with my teachers and friends in person so I hope the infection rates keep falling and on campus classes can resume in September.
Sesi Michelle Ademide Zamba, BA (Hons) Advertising, Marketing and Communications student