Langsam Library

University of Cincinnati student does his schoolwork in a corner of Langsam Library on Friday February 3, 2017.

We all saw it happen this fall semester – the Zoom lectures became camera-less, the motivation to finish assignments dwindled and everyone slowly checked out. Last spring, when everything went virtual after spring break, there was the excuse of a stressful and sudden shift in lifestyle that made our mental absence excusable. Now, it has just become the norm.

Every college student I have spoken to feels the same way. They do not necessarily want to drop out or take a semester off, as they are happy to have something to focus on. However, they all agree that mostly online classes and a few distanced, in-person ones have led them to an inclination to push off productivity as tomorrow’s problem. ‘You know what, you don’t have classes half the week anyway! You’ll have time eventually.’

The thing is, online learning is simply unsustainable to keep up with. For both students and professors, if every week brings the same old unexciting Zoom or WebEx call, the same old discussion board assignments, and the same old bedroom or office backdrop, there’s little to push us forward, even if we love the material. Without the typical in-person camaraderie among professors and peers, the motivation to complete assignments, typically while alone, falls away over time.

We are living in a pandemic-style Groundhog Day week by week, but in this case, we do not get to have fun with it– we just endure it.

This time last year, I was busy with in-person classes and meetings, running around all different parts of campus and bumping into friends left and right who made my days exciting and spontaneous. Now, this kind of day is unheard of, replaced with days of monotonous virtual meetings that have none of the same vigor or excitement.

Thankfully, we are in the home stretch of this slow and painful semester. Now, final exams and projects occupy us as synchronous classes fall away. The weekly drag through class and discussion boards is nearly over and will soon turn into a little over a month of having nothing to do on the flipside: winter break.

Spring semester, I am sure, will be similarly unmotivating. My question, then: How long can we keep this up? I know I’ve advocated for going all online in the past, and I still agree with the sentiment considering the current context, but these makeshift virtual classrooms are tiring.

Nowadays, our poor professors are often the only ones with their video cameras on during lectures, even discussions at this point, staring at blue screens void of any life. To them, I apologize for the lack of enthusiasm– it’s not you, it’s us.

Maybe you are a student who’s used to it, completely unbothered by the incessant lack of motivation week by week. Congratulations, you’re one of the few I know. But for those of you who find my words ring true, I hope we can all find the motivation to finish off the semester strong.