To Chancellor Yang and All Affected by UC Santa Barbara ‘Going Online’
You have a crisis on your hands. A crisis of confidence.
As a senior at UC Santa Barbara, I had looked upon my last quarter with melancholy. Here I have had the support of instructors that invested in myself and other students with the remarkable reputation that UCSB had earned.
I was a transfer student; I studied at both Santa Barbara City College and Allan Hancock College before transferring. I am a non-traditional student, and with this comes a great deal of experience. I have had a long history of brick-and-mortar college instruction followed by three solid years of exclusive online education. Last summer I was able to take two online courses within the UC system, one at Berkeley and the other at Irvine.
There is a public petition, with close to 7,000 signatures at the time I am writing this, from students and the families of students circulating with the demand for a reduction in their spring tuition fees. “I feel I am paying to teach myself” and “Our tuition is the same, but the learning experience is sub-par” are some of the comments left on the petition. I cannot agree more. The infrastructure of the online learning experience compared to that of the local community colleges, or even local high schools, has been sub-par. This rush to implement inadequate software coupled with poor instructor communication under a strict quarter system threatens to tarnish your reputation. However, more importantly, your student population is severely underserved by your inadequate systems.
In one course, I have only received blocks of text on Gauchospace. This course has only had one failed Zoom meeting with no follow up. I have not heard from the instructor in four days since, though I have emailed three times politely asking for office hours and an update.
I fail to understand why UCSB did not support the bare minimum of online software for its students/instructors, such as Canvas? I can’t understand the implementation of Zoom, rather than simply uploading audio files and powerpoint with forum discussions. I have never experienced a more disconnected classroom than I am now. Within the bounds of a research university, connection should be the emphasis.
The UC experience is to be one that aspires to deliver a “dynamic environment that prizes academic inquiry and interpersonal connection to inspire scholarly ambition, creativity, and discoveries with wide-ranging impact.” (UCSB website) When students are met with broken links, overloaded systems, deliverables that are disjointed and confusing — you should expect us to ask why and demand better of you. We deserve an explanation.
As the system stands now, already possessing our spring tuition fees and grades nine weeks away, how do you — UC Santa Barbara — rise to the occasion and provide us with the educational experience we earned?