University Online: Opinions Of Students

Anna Zamaraeva talked to HSE students about their experience of studying online.

University Online: Opinions Of Students

Coronavirus has changed our lives a lot. Especially, new reality influences universities and schools. Moscow and Saint-Petersburg campuses of HSE have been already transferred to distance learning. Opinions about that are quite different. Some students are really afraid of coronavirus and prefer distance format, some miss traditional education and want to return to the University. Sometimes, it is hard to express emotions about distance format and explain your thoughts.

We decided to discuss this topic with HSE students. Darina Rovinskaya, Daria Komarova and Angelina Bochkova from the 3rd course of “Advertising and Public Relations” Programme, Polina Sedlova from the 1st course of “International Relations” and Danila Ivanov from the 2nd course of “Applied Mathematics and Information Science” have talked about online education. Let’s imagine that you are conversating with them lively about this important issue.

Hello, guys! You know that some people think that the quality of traditional education is better than online. Can you find the advantages of distance studying?

Daria: The only advantage of distance education for me is quick access to necessary material. For instance, during the traditional education you have to visit lectures, after that go home or stay at the University to work in the computer class, find some information and then choose time for discussion with professors or other students. Now you can open many tabs on your computer, right after lecture highlight information using electronic resources and ask somebody to consult you.

Darina: Now I have more energy for studying because it is not necessary to wake up at 6 a.m. I have learned to manage my time. Multitasking is an important thing too. We have many projects and lections, so it is essential to find time for rest and sport. Moreover, the major part of professors prepares presentations. This is a good way to refresh knowledge for students.

Angelina: The main plus of online education is independence. We have become more responsible and learned how to manage our time. We should control our timetable and plans.

These things are actual for all students! But what about your personal perception of online education? Maybe, it gave you some new skills or you miss the university, on the contrary?

Daria: I have some technical difficulties connected with my location. Also, I don’t like to spend such much time with computer because it is harmful for eyes.

Polina: I’m an extrovert. I couldn’t wait to start another stage of socialization while at university, so online classes were the last thing I expected and wanted in 2020. As freshmen we didn’t manage to create truly strong connections. Now things are much better, but we still miss the opportunity to talk face-to-face a lot. Moreover, I do miss the unique HSE atmosphere (inspiring, energizing, busy). Though online education has lots of benefits, I’d gladly sacrifice them to feel myself a full-fledged student again.

Danila: During my 2nd course I try to combine study with work. Distance format helps me to do that. On the other hand, now productivity of students decreases. Traditional studying creates something like competition. You see how other students educate. It is a great motivation. Also, we could help each other, spend time together. And I miss that. Another important thing is that now there are no special services or mechanisms which help you not to be late for a lecture. But the first 10 minutes of the lesson are the most essential for understanding of the material. When we studied offline, we tried not to be late because of politeness and university rules.

Darina: If you ask, which format is better, I think, fifty-fifty. Now I have more time for my activities and learning languages. I don’t need spending hour and a half for a way to the one side. However, I really miss my friends and live communication. We can conversate using ZOOM, but it is not a replacement of communication in university. For me, it would be ideal to combine offline and online education.

Angelina: Distance format is more comfortable for me because of economy of time. Now I can find more time for homework, for my activity, for projects and internship. Also, I perceive information better at home when I can see all the material on the computer screen and make notes. Distance seminars are more comfortable for me too. But, obviously, I miss university and my friends.

Your experience is very interesting. Polina, you are a freshman but you could study offline only for a short period of time. What do you feel about online education?

Long story short: online education makes me feel lonely and isolated from time to time. For sure, online education benefits me in many ways. Firstly, it’s easier to take notes during lectures. Secondly, there’s plethora of ways to practice multitasking. Honestly, very frequently I’m cooking or doing yoga while listening to particular lectures (those which don’t require me to write down everything or show my face). Thirdly, and most importantly, it allows to save so much time on travelling. I wouldn’t say online education helps your adaptation, but that’s only because of my personality. For those afraid of huge and new things, online education is a good initial option. For me, it’s vice versa, I’d rather dive head first into the students’ life and realize everything’s okay and I don’t need to worry.

I hope you will overcome all these difficulties! Angelina, can you tell about freshmen’s adaptation? You are a curator of the group from the 1st course. Please, share your opinion.

Online education doesn’t interfere with adaptation but it slows down the interaction of freshmen. The 1st course is really important for formation of students’ life understanding, of communication and relationships with others. So, there are some difficulties now. Freshmen can’t visit offline events and move to the city where they should study. But they communicate actively online, they have already spent time together. We don’t know how the situation with online education will develop. But, anyway, I am sure that freshmen could become friends and integrate into university life.

Yes, online education is quite hard thing for the 1st course. But it may be a great news for foreign and nonresident students. Darina, what do you think about that?

I know that many nonresident and foreign students have come back home in order to be with their families. But some of them have to stay in students’ hostels because of closed borders. It is very sad.

Daria, you are not from Moscow, as I know. Can you say something about this issue?

At first, I was happy because distance format is a chance to stay with my family and return to a place, which is less dangerous in terms of coronavirus. But then I understood, as many other nonresident students, that I prefer traditional education because now I miss the rhythm of life in Moscow and opportunities for personal development. Also, I guess that distance format is not a way to manage your time because there are a lot of schedule changes.

And do you think that HSE University is ready to distance education?

Danila: Our university is ready for distance format. But there are still some problems. Sometimes, number of professors’ consultations is not enough. In campus you can go to the lecturer and ask something. Moreover, professors can choose different platforms for lessons now and it is not very comfortable.

Polina: From my experience, HSE is 90% ready for online education. The only thing to change is students’ ways of connecting teachers and other people in charge. «Mail» is not enough anymore, we cannot understand if the letter was sent the right way, delivered or read. We even had incidents when students were banned automatically by «Mail» as though they are sending spam letters. Communication plays a huge role, I hold, so some steps should be taken asap.

Thank you, guys! I hope, you will be able to deal with all your problems caused distance learning and coronavirus. Your experience will really help our readers.

We don’t know which format of education will be later. But we should understand that both variants have their advantages. Of course, you can communicate with your friends and professors lively during traditional education. But it is possible to learn new skills and control your plans online. University always helps students without reference to format of studying.

Text by
Anna Zamaraeva