By Martina Curran
Covid-19 is everywhere: the news, social media, everywhere we turn people are talking about it… except, now, we’re all self-isolating and being made stay at home. I know before the colleges and schools closed, students everywhere were asking: Is the college closing? When is it closing? Why isn’t the college closing? Then they were closed. Some were thrilled – no more 9am starts, no more battling with social anxiety and bumping into people we don’t want to see. Others were upset – we won’t see our friends if they go home, what happens if our roommates move out… Then realism kicked in. Lectures to be held online, exams cancelled and replaced with essays, graduations cancelled, final year students never being in NUI Galway again. Meanwhile, we’re all told to stay home, and not go anywhere. Stress levels hit hard! How do you mean we have online meetings with supervisors? How am I meant to write multiple 2000–word essays or more? I can’t even go to the local to unwind for an hour or two – on Paddy’s Day!
It’s easy to take it out on the lecturers, or the University management, but they’re as unhappy as you. Trust me. I’ve been fortunate enough to get a lecturing job this year, and I’m seeing it from both sides. Your lecturers are now trying to learn new technology to be able to live stream lectures. This may be okay for those in the computer science department, or those with strong technology skills, however many have never seen this software before – the software they are now being forced to use. They have families that are also stuck at home, and we’ve all seen the video of the kid disrupting the BBC interview. Some do not have the resources at home to be able to do this, and they’re trying to find workarounds. They are being told information on the new protocols at the same time as you. Most, if not all lecturers are now keeping a closer eye on emails in order to help in any way they can, as they understand how much harder it is for you. Believe me when I say it’s often a lot easier to explain something in person than over email – especially in technical subjects. I’ve personally had to respond to the same question more than once in different ways, while trying not to give the answer – I’d normally draw diagrams on paper. Your lecturers are trying to find ways to ensure you meet the outcomes of the module without the exam, so trying to put exam questions in different formats.
In some ways, this might actually be easier for us students. In some cases, it may be possible to do assessments with resources rather than having to remember everything. In other cases, it may be possible to do them at our leisure rather than trying to cram loads of information for numerous exams in a couple of days.
I realise many of us complain without really having any malice behind it, quite often it can just be a way to release our frustrations and clear our heads. This aside, we need to remember that although it’s a tough time for us, it’s also tough for them. They’re not, and never have been out to get us, even if sometimes it feels like they are – but this time, they’re in it as much as we are. We’re all up the same proverbial creek without a paddle, trying to find the best way to do what we need to. So please… go easy on your lecturers – they’re people too!