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Students Give Online Learning Low Marks

FILE - In this March 19, 2020, photo, a PE teacher demonstrates a badminton technique to his students during an online class at Nguyen Tat Thanh school in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The professor was trying to teach purine bases -- an element of a DNA molecule -- by drawing them on an online whiteboard.

The image students saw, instead, looked like the professor’s toddler had seized the marker and whiteboard.

“How we are learning from online classes,” deadpanned Moazam Haider, a student at Riphah International University in Faisalabad, Pakistan, on Twitter, adding the popular hashtag #We_Want_Semester_Break

It’s pretty safe to say that some -- maybe many, maybe most -- students are not embracing the online learning that universities have substituted for the real thing during the COVID-19 pandemic that has shuttered classrooms.

Shahzaib Rizvi, an electrical engineering student at Indus University Karachi, posted a photo of a bridge being built over water, the two sides just meters apart from connecting.

But they’re out of alignment.

“Engineers graduating from online classes,” Rizvi wrote below a bridge meme that suggests calculations gone awry. #WeRejectOnlineClasses #We_Want_Semester_Break, he added.

“The transition to online classes is not going to be easy but the university's information technology department is very efficient and the quality of education will not be compromised but during this pandemic,” said Hassan Muhammad Khan, chancellor of Riphah International University in Pakistan, in a video message sent to address students’ complaints. “We have to adjust -- just like any other business.”

Some students are calling for universities to end the online misery and suspend the semester until a better solution is found. Some, like Logan Stafford, say students are destined to fail in their studies because of online learning. Hence, the hashtag, #WeWantSemesterBreak and others like it.

“These online classes are not the answer to our education,” lamented Stafford, a sophomore business management major at the University of Memphis in Tennessee in the United States.

“Pray for any college student that was already lost in a class. Now they're teaching themselves a material they already had no grasp on.”

In mid-March, a survey of more than 2,500 students by the Supreme Student Council of the Malayan Colleges Laguna (@MCLkamalayan), Philippines, found that nearly 60 percent of online learners said they had an “unreliable internet connection” to sustain online classes.

Fifteen percent cited “a lack of usable devices,” and more than 12 percent said they “had problems with the online learning platform.”

Only 6.81 percent reported having “no problem.”

Students there managed to persuade the administration, who announced that online learning would be suspended after “adjustments to the Academic Term and other guidelines on the conduct of classes …”

“I'm literally not going to learn one thing from these online classes. … Love worrying about my GPA during a global pandemic!” Stafford tweeted with the punctuating hashtag: #education.

StuDocu -- a Dutch company founded in 2013 by four students whose mission is “to empower everyone to excel in their studies by providing the best tools to students who want to study more efficiently” -- surveyed more than 2,000 university students in Italy, the Netherlands and the United States, all COVID-19 affected areas, to measure academic productivity.

Among American students, 32 percent said they felt distracted by “family members or pets, taking more breaks than usual, and general procrastination.”

Half of the American students polled said they felt less productive, while 19 percent said they felt more productive than before COVID.

Dutch students said less time commuting to university (71 percent) made them more productive, adding that the experience was enhanced by eating home-cooked food.

U.S. students (53 percent) said they liked controlling the lighting and temperature in their environment and working on their own schedule (54 percent).

Which tools worked best for online learning among respondents? Moodle, Blackboard, Google Classroom, Brightspace, Canvas and Youtube, StuDocu said. In the U.S., students also used CourseHero, LinkedIn Learning and Coursera. Communication tools of preference between educators and peers included Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex and Google Hangouts.

Still, the Twitterverse protests.

“Can quarantine be over so I don’t have to do online classes anymore?” tweeted Anysa, who kind of summed it up for everyone.