Tangents & Tirades

by The Cowl Editor on October 1, 2020


The Harsh Realities of Outdoor Classrooms

Providence College has attempted to normalize hybrid classrooms, in which both in-person and remote students are in class at the same time, but one new addition to campus has shown serious faults in providing all students an equal education—outdoor classrooms.

Big white circus tents lit with inviting, warm bulbs have popped up around all corners of campus. In theory, these tents may seem like a fantastic and innovative solution to the social-distancing mandates brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. In reality, though, any remote student attending a hybrid outdoor lecture over Zoom knows that this experience has been less than ideal and not an enticing opportunity by any means.

While the outdoor students benefit from fresh air, personal conversation, and larger physical gatherings, their Zoom counterparts are struggling online. Choppy audio, whistling wind tones, nearby dorm music, car engines and alarms, and hushed, critical information from professors and classmates fill the earbuds of online students who are attempting to listen on the other end. Although each group is paying the same tuition, in-person students leave fresh-faced and fulfilled while Zoomers log off confused and unlearned.

While PC has made some necessary and creative developments to on-campus learning and teaching, there must be a more precise structure or formula for outdoor learning before it can continue as a commonplace option for class. In order to provide both in-person and remote students an equal education during their time learning physically apart, hybrid classrooms must return to their more familiar location inside an on-campus classroom enclosed by four walls.

— Madeline Morkin ’22

Dress for Success on Zoom

Waking up to get out of bed just to spend all day sitting in front of your laptop does not increase the motivation to put on a nice outfit for the day. Many of us stick to sweatshirts, or even t-shirts for our daily Zoom classes. But is this what we should be wearing? 

At a time when motivation may be lacking due to the pressures of the pandemic, dressing up ever so slightly for classes has the effect of increasing one’s spirits and productivity levels. It also shows care for the class and a willingness to learn. Zoom classes are not how many of us would choose to spend class time, and we may even find it exhausting by the second class. However, this is the reality we live in currently, so why not make it work? 

Try wearing some comfortable shorts with a nice top. A t-shirt, maybe, that does not have writing on it but is instead a simple, plain color. As students, it is important that we try to make the best of this situation. It is easy to throw on a sweatshirt or simply stay in our pajamas, but we should try to fight the urge and come to class in attire made for traditional in-person classes, just as we would if this were a normal semester. 

A simple routine of changing into a nice shirt in the morning could help quarantine go by faster, and your mental health may thank you. It will be nice to see everyone on Zoom wearing something slightly above pajamas, but less work than 9-5 attire. 

—Erin Garvey ’22

Extra Lecture is Too Much

The switch to learning on Zoom has created a major disruption in the normal curriculum for most classes. Professors and students have had to adapt in order to find a balance that is as close to normal as possible. Yet, with this new mode of learning, professors have been posting additional virtual lectures and busy work in order to make up for these drastic changes. 

Professors should not be assigning all this extra work solely because of the switch to online learning. Some may argue that adding these extra virtual lectures is necessary for the time lost due to the difficulty of learning online. However, online classes last for the exact amount of time that they would if they were in person. 

Additionally, in the pre-pandemic world, professors typically did not assign extra lectures or work to complete outside of class on top of homework, so why begin now? 

Additional work creates more stressors which weigh on students. Most already have stressors as a result of the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and the stress caused by the difficulties of online learning. Adding superfluous work only serves to increase these struggles. 

Because online learning is inconvenient for both professors and students, both parties should work together to find a balance that is the most ideal in creating a comfortable and near-conventional classroom setting. 

Perhaps the solution would be to find a better balance between lecture time and discussion time during Zoom sessions, or designating certain class meetings to lecture and others to discussion. Nevertheless, the solution should not be to assign additional work, as that only amounts to additional stress.

—Emily Ball ’22