Students say they’re seeing twice as much work this semester

Some say remote learning has led to a doubling in lecture time, extra assignments

Students claim remote learning is harder in more ways than one, with added assignments and double the lectures. Graphic Stefania Bodea

Has it felt like your workload has doubled since starting remote learning this semester?

The Link invited students to discuss their experiences so far this semester on a thread on Concordia’s Reddit page. Many said time spent in lectures has doubled and the number of assignments has increased, while others said they are seeing additional work being assigned to replace classroom discussion.

“I’m honestly not sure if there’s been a direct increase, I don’t know if they’re assigning more work than they would, because I haven’t taken these classes before, but it feels like a lot more work,” said Mary Kroiter, a second-year student with a joint specialization in anthropology and sociology. She’s currently taking four courses.

“I’m overwhelmed, and I feel like if I’m not constantly doing homework, I’m falling behind.”

She says her time spent in lectures has doubled due to pre-recorded lectures she has to watch before arriving for her live Zoom sessions, a common complaint shared by students on Reddit.

Then there’s additional time she has to budget to engage in forums on Moodle that replace class participation that would usually happen in person. The overall number of assignments for her seems to have gone up too, with each being weighted for less marks.

“It’s as if our lectures were doubled or tripled in time for the week,” said Michael Ferguson, a second-year student in computer science.

“I’m usually trying to start my schoolwork around 9:30 or 10 a.m., and I’m usually up until 2 a.m., and that’s usually six days a week,” said Ferguson. That’s despite only taking three courses, fewer than he took the previous year, when he said his workload wasn’t as hectic.

Some students The Link interviewed declined to share their names publicly, saying they didn’t want to make a bad impression in case their professors discovered their comments online.

“I’m overwhelmed, and I feel like if I’m not constantly doing homework, I’m falling behind.” —Mary Kroiter

One said they are losing time each week to email questions to their professors they would usually be able to ask in class, since some don’t have office hours. The student in the modern language and linguistics department also said they are getting less time to complete their quizzes in class.

“I get that they want to see that we’re engaged,” Kroiter said, “but it just feels like so much more work, when ordinarily you could achieve the same things by just showing up to class. Now you have to watch an hour long video and write a reaction to it after class.”

Last Monday, the university announced the winter semester would continue to be held remotely, with a limited number of labs open for students who require hands-on learning.

The decision comes as Quebec enters its second wave of COVID-19 transmission.

On Oct. 1, the greater Montreal area and other regions in the province including Quebec City were moved into the red zone after a spike in COVID-19 cases, prompting the closure of restaurants and bars, and gatherings in the home until Oct. 28. Over 1,000 new cases of the virus have been reported by the province each of the last five days.1,364 were reported on Tuesday, the highest ever increase so far.

The stress of the additional time spent in lectures is compounded by other stressors that have been brought on by the pandemic, Kroiter said. Students are seeing their finances stretched after losing work, and many are feeling isolated without much opportunity to leave the home.

“We are all going through an immensely stressful time right now,” said Kroiter, also a U.S. citizen, mentioning the recent debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic leader Joe Biden, and her concerns about how the election will end.

“You don’t want to say please go easy on us, but please go easy on us. Everyone is struggling, everyone is suffering right now.”