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Virtual classes pose a different test

20 Apr 2020

Muscat – A good number of Omani students are in various countries of the world continuing their higher studies, but due to the coronavirus pandemic and the closure of universities and schools, some came back to Oman. Since then, classes are running online through video conferencing programmes such as BlueJeans or Zoom. 

“So far the transition seems to be running smoothly,” said Mohammed al Hinai, studying Materials Sciences and Engineering at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. 

 The students are being updated daily with any new changes that may occur to the courses, Hinai said. Ibaa al Rawahi, a junior student studying 3D Animation in Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, in the United States, is one of the students who came back. 

She described her experience in the transition to online classes for the rest of the semester and that has had an impact on her major. “As an Animation student normally my major classes were studio; my usage of the materials in my department was vital as I had access to tablets and software and other materials that would support my productions and works,” she said.  

Therefore, switching to online classes was hard from both the students’ and university’s sides, as they no longer have access to materials required to producing their work. 

Ibaa described how the time difference has been difficult for her as it is based on the time at Savannah, US.  “The time difference issue has caused me some difficulties but I am trying to adjust so I get enough time to sleep and not overwork.” 

Mariya al Mazrui, studying Supply chain management at the University of Michigan, Dearborn in the United States, has seen the transition easy because most of her classes don’t involve virtual class meetings.  

Mariya said, “The professors and the university are very helpful in clarifying everything to the students.” The motivation to study has been an issue for some students and for Mariya.  “It has been slightly difficult in terms of gaining motivation to study and complete work whilst in quarantine. However, it’s not bad as I imagine and things are working out quite well.” 

Some universities have been lenient to the students by cancelling exams and replacing them with assignments and extending the deadlines of some assignments.  Alaa al Amry, studying Accounting and Finance at Southampton University in the United Kingdom, has also seen the shift to online studies ‘quite challenging’.  

Her university has adopted a policy called ‘no detriment policy’, which means that any work the students submit cannot bring their average grade down. Universities and students both are working cooperatively in order to adapt to working remotely from home to international students.  “The university is trying very hard to help its students and make sure this situation does not affect us negatively,” said Alaa.  

(Contributed by Al Anood al Wahaibi) 

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