Online Classes at APU: Join Meeting with Computer Audio? - Articles | APU Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University

Online Classes at APU: Join Meeting with Computer Audio?

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Online Classes at APU: Join Meeting with Computer Audio?

Class is about to start. Camera in focus? Check. Mic working? Check. Faces speckle the screen as students gradually sign in, all awaiting the professor’s lesson. Will we be blessed with a strong Wi-Fi connection today? Put that phone down and push all distractions aside; it’s time to learn.

APU students are well into their second week of online classes. The university has transitioned to online learning for the 2020 spring semester due to the ongoing coronavirus/COVID-19 situation, and students, faculty, and staff have been making great efforts to tackle the beast that is online classes.

We decided to ask a few of our Social Media Unit (SMU) students how their experiences have been with online classes so far, and what they’ve noticed since switching classrooms and notebooks for bedrooms and computer screens. We caught up with Temi, a 2nd semester APM student from Nigeria and Ephine, a 2nd semester APS student from Indonesia, both currently taking their online classes in Japan. On the other hand, Viviane, a 4th semester APS student is logging in daily from her home in Vietnam. Are you ready to hear their thoughts? Just give me a second… I’ll send you the meeting room ID.

What are some differences you’ve noticed between taking classes in a classroom on campus and doing online classes from home?

Viviane: Learning face to face in the classroom is very lively since we have our classmates with us to talk to and discuss the lecture. On the other hand, online class is often quite quiet. We are all logging in from different places and have to mute our mics in order to listen our professors' voice as they lecture.

Temi: I miss the benefits of a usual classroom. I am still trying to get used to not doing what I usually would: Not having to get up and rush in the morning to go to class; not being able to have your friends seated next to you, and not being in different classrooms but sitting in the same room for classes and your own personal time!

Ephine: We can’t interact with other students as much and it can be more tiring compared to normal classes because we have to constantly stare at the screen for long periods of time. However, online classes have given me more opportunities to focus more on each class. Professors have been giving a lot of breaks during online lectures, and I can use this time to review for the next class, which is usually not possible when we have to move to and from other buildings to our next class.

Well… it looks like the good old-fashioned classroom is at an advantage in this match-up. It’s sometimes hard to transition away from the sure and sound option that’s known to work. Now, let’s take a small break to get up out of that chair, stretch those legs, and rest your eyes before moving on!

How have professors been adapting to teaching their classes online, and how are they keeping students active and engaged through this new online platform?

Ephine: It depends on the professor’s lecture style. Some professors will make time during the lecture to ask for our opinion on the topic, and I’ve been surprised to see many students taking the chance to answer enthusiastically!

Temi: For my language classes, my professor shares all the tests and practices on OneNote and students will break off into pairs in separate chatrooms to practice speaking one-on-one. Another professor will start the class with stories related to accounting and the benefits of taking the course. This motivates me to put more effort into my assignments and class engagement.

Viviane: The professors have been doing their best to manage lectures through Zoom! To keep students engaged and active, my professors have been adding more Q&A sections to gage how students are keeping up with the lessons. PowerPoint presentations, in-class quizzes, even attendance checks are well-prepared.

Sounds like professors at APU are really taking the time to find different ways to effectively transfer their classroom lectures online! We hope that APU students can take advantage of the different techniques that professors are utilizing during this time. Now, before moving along, do you have any questions? Here, let me unmute your mic. Oh, that wasn’t the right button, hold on a second…

What difficulties have you come across so far?

Temi: Communication. In one of my lecture classes where we have over 100 students, there is this hidden fear of unmuting your mic to tell the professor “I don’t really understand…” or “I didn’t get that!”

Viviane: Because of the difference in time zones (Hanoi is 2 hours earlier than in Japan), my first period is around 6:45 AM. Honestly, sometimes it’s hard to stay focused and not fall asleep during first period! Also, Zoom is a new format to many people, both professors and students, and it’s hard to learn how to use it properly in a short amount of time. There was one time where the connection was unstable and my computer was lagging. Somehow, my microphone was accidentally unmuted, so my background noise was audible for everyone! Be careful!

Ephine: It is kind of hard to ask questions to professors, especially in big scale classes, as sometimes the sound overlaps with other students who are trying to speak at the same time.

Sorry for those sound issues and technical difficulties. Maybe you should try logging out and back in again? Transitioning to online classes, alongside being introduced to the new programs and tools you’ll need to use, is a huge task. Problems are bound to pop up, but it’s how we work through them and adapt to the situation at hand. We have no doubt that APU students and professors will come up with ways to perfect the process as the semester progresses!

Do you have any tips or advice for other students who might be new to online classes? How do you stay focused?

Ephine: Don’t forget to eat before classes, especially if you have a long day, and prepare some drinks on your table to keep hydrated. Put your phone on silent, it really helps you to stay focused on the class.

Temi: One thing I recommend is dressing like you’re going to class. Change out of your pajamas or lounge wear, and dress like you’re in school so you don’t feel the need to sleep or slack. Also, reducing the brightness of your screen so it doesn’t hurt your eyes as much when you’re staring for long periods of time!

Viviane: Change up your study environment. Studying in the same place might become tedious so changing your study zone might be a good solution to stay focused! In case you cannot go outside, even a simple location change like moving from the bedroom to the kitchen is an option. (Where else… the bathroom? …please use your virtual background!) Good luck with your online classes!

These are all great tips! Whether students are side by side in a classroom or connecting via webcam, you can learn from your peers to overcome difficulties and stay focused. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your classmates and ask them how they’ve been dealing with their online classes; it could be a great learning experience for you both!

We sincerely hope that all APU students, faculty, and staff continue to be successful with this semester’s online learning environment, and we can’t wait until we see everyone back on campus again!

Well, you made it! How was the video quality, were you able to keep up? I’ll make the PowerPoint files available shortly after and send them to you via email. I’m ending the meeting now… I’m… oh, where is that button…

Photos featured are courtesy of APU Student Social Media Unit member Ephine Maria.

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