The global pandemic has caused universities around the world to try remote learning. However, I believe that the university experience is more than just writing exams. Unlike an in-person campus, an online class provides limited avenues of socialization for many students looking to make friends. How can students connect with other people from remote learning? During this uncertain time, here are a few ways to connect with classmates.
1. Start a Discord server
Discord can be a classroom wide group chat and video conference. Unlike the eClass forum, the Discord chat allows for both formal discussion of course material and informal discussion for unrelated topics. I believe that the more people that participate in the server, the better the discord experience will be. Your questions can receive better and varied answers from a larger pool of students.
2. Streams for sports, concerts, and plays
The University of Alberta has an extremely passionate group of fans and concert or play attendees. If the University of Alberta hosts a private stream for all students for viewing any sporting or art event, it will provide a way for students to socialize with others based on a common interest. The University community has already started showing an interest in live streaming, as the Students’ Union hosted a moderated Q&A session with American political activist Angela Davis. If the stream is marketed well towards students, that could increase the interest in attending varsity games or art shows in the future.
3. Contact your professor
You can consult your professor about how to encourage camaraderie among a remotely connected class. I remember that one professor I had requested that every student would give their student email to another randomly assigned person. This decision provided every student with a “class contact” for whenever they missed a class. This method could also be implemented in online classes. I might add that there should be more than one “class contact” for whenever one student is not available.
4. Reach out to clubs
Clubs will always need members to sustain its existence. Many of them are advertised on the BearsDen webpage, depending on your interests. If they provide an email contact, send out that email. The club leader will be happy to see some level of participation and will likely arrange a way for you to interact with other club members.
5. Social media pages
The University of Alberta has a Facebook and Instagram page. Depending on your interests, there may be subsections like faculty or department associations. You can follow their page and check who else participates in these pages. These people also share a common interest as you do. Reach out to them via direct messages and try to befriend them like you would normally do in real life.