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UCI Students and Professors Recount Their Experiences With Remote Learning

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Chancellor Howard Gillman announced that remote instruction would be extended to Jan. 28 in a campus wide email update on Jan. 6. Vice Provost Gillian Hayes explained the testing protocol for returning in person in a follow-up email. However, UCI instructors and students are uncertain if Jan. 31 is the finalized date for in-person instruction or if online classes will continue for the entire quarter. 

With nearly all courses back online, several UCI professors and students shared their thoughts on entering remote campus life once again.

Professor Jung-Ah Lee teaches geriatric nursing to undergraduate and graduate students. In order to make virtual class more entertaining, she incorporated Kahoot and Zoom polls into lectures. The lack of supervision might be a downside to remote learning, but her students are avid learners – she trusts they listen in class. 

“We’re used to Zooming and engaging with each other. If they have questions, they can call me anytime. If they’re tired, they can look at the material later. I try to be accommodating towards my students,” Lee said.

Professor Lee currently suffers from backaches, sore eyes and wrists from long hours sitting. She misses taking walks around campus, but due to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, she recommended that the winter quarter go entirely online. 

English Professor Jayne Lewis mentioned how she tried to stay curious as she taught literature class in the same living space where she practiced yoga. 

“I listen to a podcast that gives little, wonderful pieces of advice, and they were talking about new year’s resolutions. They said, ‘stay curious.’ Don’t feel like you need to know the script. Just watch and see what happens, and be present,” Lewis said.

A few weeks into the quarter, she was pleasantly surprised by the connections she was able to make with students in class discussion and during office hours. When the majority of students’ cameras are off, Lewis finds teaching online difficult, but she believes that “literature and the life of the imagination” is a gift that is needed most during this pandemic. 

Lewis also preferred to stay remote this winter quarter. 

Third year music student Daniel Regalado-Ortiz struggled to listen in class as fire trucks and cars passed by outside his Puerto Del Sol apartment. As a French horn player, he was sad to see live performances get canceled. Instead of playing in wind ensemble, he listened to pre-recordings in bed. 

“It is mentally exhausting to be kept indoors for most of the day. There is no separation of school and home life. Everything is done in one room,” Regalado-Ortiz said.

But Regalado-Ortiz has hope. He hopes to bike the seven miles to Newport Beach, perform in a live concert and sing in his acapella group, VocaLotus, if COVID-19 cases drop this winter quarter. 

Morgan Jones is a fourth year political science and business economics student who serves as market manager for ANT C.L.U. or Anteater Civil Liberties Union Club. The number of club participants fell since the beginning of the fall quarter, so Jones is working on rebranding its concept on social media. She planned her schedule for when to watch class lectures, set time for grad apps and when to attend work and club meetings.

“At the end of the day, I just need to finish this degree,” Jones said.

The New University asked Jones what advice she would give to other remote learners.

“The best thing that you can do is join a campus organization. On campus, it is very easy to get involved, like getting a job and making friends at work–you just got to do those same things, but virtually,” Jones said.

Jones hoped to attend one in-person class this winter quarter, but she can wait until Jan. 31 or spring quarter before she graduates.


Alisa Lee is a Campus News Intern for the winter 2022 quarter. She can be reached at alisacl@uci.edu.