With educational institutions in Bangladesh shifting their activities to virtual platforms in the wake of Covid-19, we caught up with some first-year undergraduates to find out about their experiences with distance learning, and their expectations once campuses reopen.
Azra Humaira, a Mass Communication and Journalism student from Dhaka University (DU), finds it difficult to retain information while being confined to her home. She, however, enjoys bonding with her fellow classmates over their mutual disdain for online classes. She also added that her teachers are immensely understanding.
Fardeen Azwad, a student of English at ULAB, was looking forward to the social aspect of university life –on-campus events, and face to face interactions with his teachers and peers. "But online classes and flexible deadlines mean that I can work on my own time and the process feels a lot more personal than a dictated style of teaching," he added.
Being in front of a screen for six to seven hours a day is nerve-wrecking and led to eye problems for Ayat Subah Alam who studies Electrical, Electronic, and Communication Engineering at Military Institute of Science and Technology (MIST). Samia Nawsheen, a Mechanical Engineering student from the sam e university, often finds it difficult to concentrate during online classes.
Many students are still struggling to adjust to online classes due to poor network connections and financial constraints. "We have been accustomed to learning in classrooms for a long time. So, the concept of online learning is completely new," said Faria Fatema Sneho, a Mass Communication and Journalism student at DU. Session jams are also causing distress amongst public university students.
"Even though we are losing years to session jams, the loss of lives in case any students get infected, will be irreplaceable," asserted Sneho. As most of the students explained, vaccinations take precedence over in-person academic activities.
With daily life being shaped by the "new normal", these first-year students hope to live their university days to the fullest once these turbulent times are over. From co-curricular club activities and hangouts to resolving session jams, wishes pile up as they continue their learning online, for now.