At this point, it feels cliché to say that 2020 was a terrible year. Workplaces, governments, and educational institutions have all had to make radical changes to adjust to the coronavirus era. To gain an understanding of how these changes have impacted students, The Brunswickan reached out to students from educational facilities across Fredericton to see how students feel about the 2020 educational experience.

The biggest adjustment across the board has been the switch from in-person classes to classes primarily occurring online. 

Holly Carter, a first-year student in Forestry and Environmental Management, liked being able to re-watch her classes pre-recorded lectures. She said they “offer a chance to go back to content I don’t feel I have grasped.”

David Moser, a fourth-year STU student majoring in Criminology and Criminal Justice, praises how the increased use of technology in the classroom allows professors to keep students up to date on progress. Like many other students though, David doesn’t have confidence that group work translates well into the pandemic classroom, questioning why professors would expect students to gather “if the whole point is to flatten the curve of COVID-19 by keeping non-household bubbles from coming together,” he said.

For the majority of students, the online format does not hold up to the educational experiences they are used to.

Emily Veysey, a fourth-year student honouring in Comparative Cultures Studies at UNB, doesn’t believe her seminar-style classes have effectively transitioned online. 

“Most of my classes have significantly reduced the amount of actual online class time,” she said, noting that replacing discussion with optional web-classes doesn’t embody the spirit of university education.

For many, the lack of an academic social environment has been a major loss. Some, like Preshith Luk Bosco, have found it more difficult to participate in online classes, where in the past he was able to more easily participate in classroom discussions.

“The online format has dramatically lessened the overall educational experience,” said Mackenzie Roherty, a fourth-year English Major at UNB.

He took particular issue with replacing class discussion with online message boards. 

“The exchange of ideas that arises from sitting in the same room as someone else and discussing a work of literature is almost absent now.” 

For Roherty, the biggest issue is how he was forced to turn his home into a permanent place of study. Now Roherty finds it difficult to escape classroom mentality.

“Every time I tried to do something for myself, I had this nagging sensation that I should be getting ahead with homework.”

For students at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, there has been a blend of in-person and online classes, a combination that has proved to be more popular with students. Regarding the blended experience, NBCCD textiles student Liza Upham explained, “It’s a bit more manageable for me and I’m able to preserve my energy better.”

There were lost connections, in terms of what could have been. It’s hard to crawl into a little burrow in the basement of your house and pretend it’s time to do homework and not to hibernate. The entire term feels almost like an empty dream, the kind where you wake up remembering that you dreamed, but unable to recall what it was you were dreaming.