Academic Life During Quarantine


Contributing writer Sahil Annamaneni ’24 interviewed Oliver Hurwitz ’21, Mr. Adam Lang, instructor in economics, and Isamar Martinez ’24 about adjusting to academic life this year.

How did learning change with online Zoom classes? What are some positives and negatives that you take away from them?

Hurwitz: I don’t think that there are positives to Zoom classes in my opinion. I think that in-person classes are better for everything. You get a much more intimate experience with the teacher and your classmates. It is also much easier to lead a discussion in person than over Zoom. Additionally, looking at a computer screen for a long time gives people a lot of headaches, and I can tell from experience that it does. 

Martinez: It is definitely harder to rely on technology because I am not tech savvy. I can’t think of any positives other than typing which makes aspects like note-taking more efficient. 

Is the workload lighter or heavier compared to last year, and has it become easier to reach teachers outside of class?  

Hurwitz: I find it pretty easy to reach teachers outside of class, but this is partially because I am a returning student. Teachers are quite accessible and  provide opportunities to meet with them one-on-one, either through their personal meeting rooms or a separate meeting initiated via email. They are all really invested in their jobs, and they really like to see the students succeed. Right now, the workload is pretty much the same compared to in-person classes. Last Spring, it was definitely a lot lighter, but that was primarily due to the fact that it was online and distance learning was still very new. 

How did you adjust to Zoom classes, especially in our first weeks of school?

Mr. Lang: I think it has been fine. It’s not ideal. Obviously three-dimensional interaction is much more ideal than two-dimensional interaction, but that’s better than no interaction. 

What have been difficulties for you as a teacher during this quarantine? 

Mr. Lang: Not being able to make eye contact and see students’ eyes is really difficult.  Knowing if they are engaged and what they need is harder over Zoom because oftentimes as a teacher you’re reacting to the non-verbal cues which cease to exist through technology. 

How has it been adjusting to only Zoom classes, especially in your first weeks of school at a new school?

Martinez: It’s been a struggle because, especially when you start a new school, you want to make friends, but I am adjusting and it just takes some time. 

How is the homework working, and have you found it easy to reach teachers outside of class? 

Martinez: The workload isn’t too bad. The teachers are really generous and it is easy to reach them outside of class. When I have had a question they have usually responded pretty quickly. 

Interviews have been lightly edited for clarity.