CampusOpinion

Online midterms bring new stresses to academic life

From SEM to eClass difficulties, digital exams have introduced new challenges for students to overcome

Midterm time is always the worst time. This year, however, everything was a little different with online midterms. Personally, I hated it. 

I realize that this is the first time for many professors to be conducting online exams and they are all doing their best. As are students. It is undeniable, however, to not acknowledge the added stress online midterms entail. 

First, there is the paranoia of simply missing your midterm. What if I wake up late? What if my laptop spontaneously combusts into flames? Anything can happen.

Then, it’s running Smart Exam Monitor (SEM). Now, I’m not against professors running SEM on exams — even though I appreciate it when classes don’t require it. The program makes sense for professors wanting to uphold academic integrity. However, there is an added fear that the program might refuse to cooperate with your computer.  Then you’re left worried that you’ll get a zero. 

There is also the fact that people may get flagged due to SEM. Your lighting needs to be right, they monitor your face, and the volume around you. Not everyone has the same environment at home that may fit all the requirements needed for SEM. Remote proctoring of exams adds on more fears to this already stressful time of year and it is important for professors to be understanding of unforeseen situations that may occur. From my experiences many of them fortunately are.

eClass is another major problem with online midterms. I had my midterm on eClass and when I was ready to submit my file through the online portal, it decided not to work. Arguably, this was the five most stressful minutes of my life which included me talking to my laptop, holding back tears, and frantically hitting my keyboard. If anyone ends up watching my SEM recording, they will find themselves thoroughly amused.

Luckily, I ended up getting in contact with my professor who walked me through what to do and basically saved my day. 

Not everything about online midterms is terrible though. Having midterms that are accessible all day for students are super convenient and alleviate lots of stress for students (and for eClass). Lots of midterms have also been restructured to be open book — this can be a great thing or terrible thing, depending on the situation. The added time constraints to these open book midterms generally don’t allow students to scroll through their notes for the answers. 

Online exams are far from ideal, but so is everything else about online university. It makes some things easier and most things more difficult. It will take time to adjust for both parties. It’s also going to require lots of understanding because everyone is new to this. 

Winter semester will be better. Hopefully.

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