Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, although quite reluctant at first, most of the public Universities of Bangladesh conducted one or two semesters online.
Starting from the middle of 2020, almost the whole of 2021 was full of online classes and tasks.
At first most of the public Universities went on with online classes but were reluctant to come up with a comprehensive system to conduct exams online.
But in the middle of last year, online examinations were also taken by most of the public Universities in order to tackle session jam.
The students in general have mixed opinions on the conduction of online semesters. The opinions are neither negative nor positive as they have expressed that there are some severe drawbacks as well as advantages of the online semester.
Talking to the writer, Inzamamul Huq Khan Alvy, the class representative of the 98th batch of the Department of Economics, University of Dhaka told, "As a class representative I faced some issues regarding communicating with the students.”
“Online classes seemed to be monotonous for many students. Some students couldn’t concentrate on the class lectures. Many of them were just attending the class and waiting for class materials,” said Alvy.
Again, almost 10-15 per cent of students, as per Alvy, had network and device issues. As the residential halls were closed, some students had to attend classes from rural or remote areas.
According to Fahim Shahriar Priyo, another student from the Economics department of the same institution, the positives and negatives were quite similar in number.
"While the online classes were convenient for us people in Dhaka as we could attend the classes with relative ease and as videos were provided, we didn’t have to worry about missing the classes, but I didn’t like the online exams.”
“I had to worry about the internet connection and while taking pictures of the script, my anxiety kicked in. These types of things cannot happen during offline exams, hence, I prefer offline exams to online exams, but online classes to offline classes," concluded Priyo making his choices clear.
However, the case of students living in rural areas are quite different as they had to suffer both during online classes as well as online examinations due to not having stable internet connections.
Many of them had to attend classes by going far away from their village to the district headquarters in order to have a stable internet connection.
Anindeta Chowdhury, a journalism graduate from Dhaka University, pointed out a very important aspect of the online semester while reviewing it.
“My worst nightmare regarding online semesters was concentration. No matter what, I couldn’t hold my concentration for a whole class.”
Anindeta said that she used to stare at the screen unabatedly but struggled to comprehend what the professor was talking about.
“Well, the problem was multi-dimensional. First I couldn’t concentrate on the screen for a stretched period. Even if I tried to keep myself engaged on that thing (device), I failed to keep up with the pace of the speaker and forgot what I read as soon as the class got dismissed.”
Apart from these, many students missed the liveliness of University campuses and the constant festivity that is associated with them.
Online semesters have been a mix of bad and good for most of the students. As Universities are coming back to the normal proceedings, a lot of students have suggested to retain some of the good aspects of online semesters for the days to come.