The Remote Realm

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The Remote Realm

Mar 05, 2021

I imagine how I thought 2020 was going to go back in March of last year. I was excited for senior year, trips with my friends, and growing personally and professionally. I find that even when classes were first let out, I was still full of excitement. With nothing holding us back, my friends and I packed up the car and went on a week-long road trip. It was not until after I stepped foot back in Malibu that I realized the enormous shift that was happening in my life.

Many of my classmates and friends flew home for good while I made the decision to stay in Malibu. This left me with a bare community and little hope for development with my peers. I attempted to lean into the professional world to fill this gap. However, with most of the state closed for quarantine, this didn’t leave me with many options, so I worked as a nanny and housekeeper to attain the human interaction that Pepperdine left me without. After continuing my search, I eventually landed an internship at ProTrending. This completely remote internship was out of my comfort zone and ultimately helped me navigate my online life.

While the school did its best to increase engagement within Pepperdine, nothing amassed to everyday on-campus life. I found that my classes were the last thing I had tying me to Pepperdine and its students. With classes moving to the online format, focusing on my studies and time management were skills I had to alter to fit my remote responsibilities. Keeping on top of your studies had a whole new meaning to me. I had to learn that just because I do not attend class does not mean that I do not have class, and I think this was one of the most significant changes for many students.

Another shift that I have faced as a student is the format of Zoom courses. Staying active and being attentive on campus was simple without distractions in the classroom, but being in your own home allows for all kinds of interruptions. Whether it’s three people being in class on the same wifi, others bursting into the room, or navigating to Zoom class, there is a constant diversion from focus, and without focus comes fatigue. I found that keeping alert and concentrated in class in my two-hour classes was difficult, much less my four-hour classes. Over time, I have discovered small tricks to keep myself engaged, such as drinking water and taking useful notes, but there is still room for improvement.

Professors and faculty work hard to make their information capture students’ attention. I do not think that the content is the issue when it comes to remote learning. The length and intensity of the content are where I find faults. Since beginning online classes, I have noticed an increase in homework and classwork in order to keep students engaged. While I know this comes from a good place, it is drowning students already having a hard time keeping up at Pepperdine. Your time at college is supposed to be used for many things - an enlightening education, professional development, and personal growth. Once the Pepperdine experience became virtual, it only became about securing your degree. To change that, I wish professors would ease up on the amount of course work given so that students have time to explore themselves and their future. As far as what can be done within the classroom, taking breaks has become a vital part of my concentration. Looking at a screen all day and sitting in one spot becomes tiring when there is no time to recharge and refocus.

I understand that the new format is something that everyone, not just Pepperdine students, is attempting to decipher. It is not easy to completely alter how you interact, learn, and go about your everyday tasks. However, if we all keep an open mind and listen to how others learn and teach, we can find the best structure of success in the remote realm.

Rae Williams, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s media law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the following question: Classes have been on-line for almost a year. Describe your experience. What could be done to make it better? What would you do to increase class engagement? The class covers copyright and social media. Rae is an Public Relations major.

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