Out-of-state students adapt to remote learning amid pandemic

Students outside of Arizona detailed a lack of interaction and trouble adjusting to different time zones while learning remotely

Students outside of Arizona have needed to adapt to issues stemming from learning remotely, such as not being able to contact the school, trying to protect at-risk individuals and completing assignments from different time zones. 

Heddie Lui, a sophomore majoring in accountancy, said she feels excluded for not being able to engage in cooperative dialogue since she attends school online from her home in Hong Kong.  

“The biggest struggle is the time difference,” Lui said. “I’m 15 hours ahead so a lot of my classes (are) from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m."

Lui said she has also faced difficulties staying in contact with the school in order to cancel her room and board for the fall semester and report that she is out of the country. 

“It’s been hard to contact the school because when I contact them it’s night time and they’re not open,” Lui said. 

Remote learning has been a relatively new method for most students. But Anya Magnuson, a graduate student studying mass communication, has used this method before the pandemic. 

Magnuson first went remote in the Fall 2019 semester after she was diagnosed with cancer and has been studying from her home in Minneapolis, Minnesota ever since.

READ MORE: ASU student documents her own medical journey through photography

She said group projects are especially hard to complete with a time difference of one or two hours depending on the time of year. Magnuson said students would schedule meetings to work on projects when it would be midnight her time.

At first, Magnuson struggled with remote learning as she did not get full permission to do so from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, but she did get permission from her individual professors. 

“They did not have to do that, but they went above and beyond and offered to let me do everything remotely,” Magnuson said.

Magnuson described the experience as being highly isolating as she was not able to communicate with classmates like she would in an in-person setting. 

“The biggest challenge I’ve seen is with hybrid classrooms, there’s no real equality between the students who are on Zoom and the students who are there in person,” Magnuson said. “The students who are there in person are always going to get something that the students who are just doing it remotely can’t.” 

For freshmen who joined their first-ever college courses fully remotely this fall, there was a similar effect.

“I learn better when I can see it in person instead of watching a lecture through Zoom,” Kylie Werner, a freshman journalism major studying out of San Diego, said. “Coming in as a freshman, it was a little daunting having to be one of the only ones who are attending fully remotely because I know that some of the other students get to go into the classroom and see the teachers.”

READ MORE: This semester brings an abnormal college experience for freshmen

Fiona Flaherty, a sophomore journalism major, is learning at home in Richmond, Virginia with her parents who are at risk for contracting COVID-19.

“To me, it made no sense to drive my stuff across the country in the middle of a pandemic to a hotspot just to move in and do school,” Flaherty said. 

Flaherty has been frustrated by the growing case numbers at ASU, which have made her feel more confident in her decision to stay home.

“It’s so frustrating when you have people trying to stay home to protect their family, their friends and each other but then you have people going about their normal lives, it’s very frustrating,” Flaherty said. 

Flaherty said she feels bad for her friends who have lost the in-person aspect of their education and who have had to rely on social media and digital communication to keep in touch with their friends. 

“Regardless of what happened to you before as a student, now was the time where you found out whether or not online learned worked for you or not,” Flaherty said. “There’s no way that a student could be in a hotel room, in quarantine, by themselves, trying to do classes and come out of that in a positive mental state."


Reach the reporter at asgalla1@asu.edu and follow @agally72 on Twitter. 

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