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Brightspace not looking so bright for students 

Photo by Shay Galon

It is 2019, students freely walk the narrow corridors towards their module classes, before zoning out three-hour lectures to fantasise about the glorious pints and bants they had at the society social the night prior. 

You know what they say, your college years will be the best years of your life.  

However now, the future of socialisation and learning  has arrived. Uni students flock to their accommodations, seating themselves comfy in their rooms waiting for class to load onto their screens.  

We knew that digital technology and the world wide web would eventually  integrate themselves even further into our lives – we just never thought it would have to come so soon.   

The continuous spread of coronavirus has made students and staff of various universities and institutes for education construct new ways of study for their chosen subjects. This new way of study being found primarily using online platforms such as Brightspace and Moodle. 

Students and teachers in third level education organise and cooperate with one another to create and adapt to their  brand-new internet classrooms.  Could this really be the future of education for the next year or more?  

We decided to investigate just how students  from Technological University Dublin, both abroad and in Ireland, are coping with the new robotic way of  exploring their respective courses.  

“Students have been extremely patient as TU Dublin have gradually gotten to grips with moving mostly online. Still, it has been  difficult, and we are trying are best to identify students  who need our support to get through this year,” said Rebecca Gorman, President of the TU Dublin Student Union.  

The main issues with virtual learning have been that some students do not have access to laptops and that lecturers are struggling with changing to teaching lectures online.  

“There are 1,000 laptops as part of a loan scheme for students, but it will not cover the huge demand,” Gorman added.  

The biggest issue, however, remains to be that coronavirus is still active and spreading rapidly through the country. Maybe, getting away from our country during this difficult period could have its benefits?  

Christie Lee, an international business  and languages student from TU Dublin, is currently continuing her studies abroad in Aix-Marseille University, Southern France. Her college situation differs greatly to those studying in Ireland.   

“At the moment, my university has adopted a ‘hybrid system’ where students who were born on an even number go to class the first week and then do online learning for the second week and vice versa for the odd number students,” said Christie.   

“Recently our area has come under tougher restrictions so cafes and bars must be closed for 2 weeks so classes for now are 100% online apart from students who need to do practical work,” she added. 

It certainly has not been the ‘craic agus ceol’ experience for the international students in Ireland this year either. Erasmus students sit in their chosen accommodations waiting for their zoom meeting lectures and Microsoft teams’ social calls.   

“Students who are away on Erasmus here are really in the same situation as students in Ireland, they are struggling to keep up with all the changes happening to their education,” said Rebecca Gorman, President of the Student Union in TU Dublin.  

In TU Dublin, the International Office have made efforts to assist international students as they start getting used to online learning. They have made online presentations for discussing student volunteering opportunities and even scheduled a movie night watching ‘The Foreigner’ starring Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan via the Microsoft teams’ online platform. And it does not stop there.  

With societies and clubs not being able to host various pub crawls, matches and ‘mystery trips’ away, TUDublin have taken to the internet to host online events as a safer substitute. Events include Welcome Week which will play host to online game nights and social activities to give a warm welcome back to new and returning students.

   

Despite all these efforts to combat isolation and boredom with education at home, students still await the days where they will finally be able to walk, risk-free, onto their brand-new university campus at Grangegorman.   

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