James Madison University Creates ”Safe Live App” Aiming to Prevent COVID-19 Spread Among Students
Mar 01, 2021
Studying in the United States is a dream come true for many youngsters from across the world. Despite a year of challenges, restrictions in traveling, movement, and social distancing measures due to COVID-19 developments, many of the latter decided to chase the American Dream and still get the most of it.
Xixellonja Nebihu from Kosovo, a student of Equity and Cultural Diversity at the James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, United States, was one of the lucky students to obtain her student visa on time and begin her first semester in January 2021.
Nevertheless, being aware of many struggles students worldwide are going through due to visa delays and lack of communication with the respective embassies, she was worried whether she would receive the visa and make it to the United States.
“Being in this pandemic time, my main concern was obtaining the visa. However, I called the embassy and made sure that they are giving student visas,” she told Erudera.com.
Although it is the second time she is in the United States as a student, the challenges have not diminished. This time, her journey was different due to a completely unusual study experience.
Whilst being a student in some very challenging times when people have, among others, been affected financially, Xixellonja managed to receive a Graduate Assistantship and be completely funded by the university.
“This time, it is totally different due to the Coronavirus. There are no student events on campus, and there are no international events. I cannot meet a lot of people because everyone tries to avoid gatherings,” she said, claiming that her study experience could have been different if the COVID-19 developments never happened.
James Madison University – Cautious Regarding the Virus
The 2020 year was a demanding year not only for students but for universities as well. Numerous universities from across the globe have been forced to cancel any of the events at their campuses and switch to online learning in an effort to protect their students and wider communities’ health.
Xixellonja, who is in her first year of studies at the James Madison University, said that the latter has been vigilant regarding the COVID-19 virus, from making sure students are informed how to protect themselves from the virus by sending them emails with guidelines to offering them free COVID-19 tests.
“Prior to our arrival here, they sent us many emails regarding the virus, how to protect ourselves, how to feel well. They organized virtual events for making this pandemic easier for us as students,” she said.
Moreover, the university has implemented an app called the “Safe Live App” which students must check before showing on the campus. The app aims to curb the spread of the virus and to make students feel safe while being on campus.
Zoom, Google Meets & Canvas, Some of the Tools Universities Have Been Using for Remote Learning
It is quite obvious that online learning differs from in-person learning, mainly due to the lack of interaction and activities. After being forced to switch to online learning, different universities have been using different learning platforms and methods.
Xixellonja pointed out that her university – James Madison University, has been using zoom as the main learning platform, jamboard as the main activity, whereas Canvas for assignments.
“Everything is on canvas, our assignments, materials, videos recorded by our professors, discussions, chats, and more,” she said.
Similar to her, Sumaiya Tabassum from Bangladesh, a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, said that the university has been using the Canvas platform, where most of the recorded lectures are uploaded.
“Professors upload lecture recordings and materials on canvas. We usually have 2/3 assignments each week for each of the courses. Assignments are also submitted on canvas. There are discussion boards on the canvas where we can interact with our peers and reflect on our learning,” she said.
In addition, Abdullah Çetinkaya, a master student of Agricultural Biosciences at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), said his university has been holding lectures in Zoom, whereas the second-year mathematics student at the University of Pecs, Hungary, Riad Januzi, also mentioned Zoom, Google Meets and Microsoft Office as the main tools his university has been using during remote learning.
”Taking Online Classes Has Been a Tough Thing to Do”
Fortunate to receive her visa on time, the challenges for Xixellonja started once she embarked on the American land. Despite being in Virginia, she did not have the chance to meet other students in-person or show at the campus.
For two weeks, together with her other peers, she had to take only online classes, which, as she said, have caused her fatigue and discomfort.
“I could not cope with Zoom fatigue and not meeting new people for two weeks,” she said, adding that online learning is not as effective as learning on campus due to limited activities compared to classroom learning where students can perform any activities and engage more in the class.
However, such a situation did not last long. According to Erudera, the university decided to conduct online classes only during the first two weeks, allowing students to return to face-to-face learning and show at the campus.
“Now our classes are on campus. Sometimes they can be hybrid too. During remote learning, my main difficulty was the zoom fatigue because our lectures are long and just staying in front of the computer for hours makes me knackered,” Xixellonja added.
According to her, international students in Virginia haven’t been receiving any state assistance at the moment.
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