I recently read Cheating Lessons by James Lang, and this article is a by-product − that is to say, not plagiarism − of that book.
Back on a cool March morning, I went through my usual pandemic ritual of logging into Zoom, when an urgent message came in from a small group of students in my health justice class – an online class I developed mid-pandemic.
Two things changed the direction of my personal and professional life in my early twenties: during my senior year in college, I survived a violent sexual assault, and three months after graduation I experienced homelessness. My family was not equipped to support me with either because they were struggling financially and had strong opinions regarding my queer identity. I was forced to navigate the sexual assault trauma on my own while still trying to earn my degree.
How are you, really?
Many of us will experience well-being challenges at various points in our lives, and this is especially true for students. The links between mental health and well-being and student engagement, progression, retention and achievement are well documented, and for many the pandemic has added to these challenges. It is therefore important that student health and well-being are promoted throughout university life and that a holistic approach is adopted.
Throughout the pandemic, students, staff and instructors alike have received countless emails addressing the collective exhaustion of teaching, learning and working online. Often, these emails contain directives such as “don’t forget to practise self-care”, or “go for a walk” or − my particular favourite − an email sent on a Wednesday that gently advised “don’t check emails on Wednesdays”.
While many in the higher education sector view cybersecurity knowledge as solely the domain of the IT department, computer science students or shadowy hackers, this year has highlighted many examples of how online learning, and students’ wider use of online platforms, would benefit from a greater understanding of online security fundamentals.
As many of us begin to think about getting back to campus, there will likely be anxiety about the potential changes. Imagine, then, how much more anxious our students will be, some of whom missed out on their final months at school and have then missed the normal teaching experience for the past year.
Bringing these students into our campus communities must be a priority – encompassing not just learning but also the social aspects of university life.
It’s an unfortunate fact that the global spread of Covid-19 has significantly reduced interactions between international students. Most can no longer travel to destination countries to receive in-person educational programmes, live with their peers or participate in extracurricular activities.
It has been a year since universities across the world transitioned to remote learning and in many ways working with students online is starting to feel “normal.”
However, my college and law students in Europe are displaying levels of anxiety that are decidedly not normal. The growing Covid-related anxiety in university students in the US has also been extensively documented.
YouTube posts known as gongbang (“study with me”) videos have become surprisingly popular among students during the Covid-19 pandemic. One well-known streamer in South Korea, Kim Dong-Min, posted a video of himself studying in a library that attracted more than 400,000 views. The video shows him sitting at a desk, tapping thoughtfully on his laptop while studying, with ambient “library” noises appearing in the background. Why would anyone want to watch him? To many, it might be akin to watching paint dry.