With university classes being conducted remotely utilizing alternative means, professors teaching in universities worry about international students and their access to online lectures and discussions.
UW is among the many universities around the world that have taken a remote-first approach to teaching and learning, with all classes going online for the fall term. Many professors raised their concerns, highlighting accessibility issues for international students as well as the difference in time zones affecting their schedules.
“It’s a new environment”, Bojana Videkanic, a UW professor, said to The Record. Videkanic teaches “Global Modernism” as part of the fine arts program focusing on the examination of art in the post-Second World War period.
Many international students returned to their home countries during the onset of the pandemic. Unable to come back due to immigration restrictions, they now deal with accessibility issues due to the nature of their home countries.
Authoritarian states like China have internet restrictions in place that ban access to YouTube and other internet sources useful for students to complete their courses.
Professor Videkanic’s course focuses on modern art in the context of censorship, the cold war, decolonization, and propaganda.
“I have a section on Asia. This year, for the safety of my students . . . I have decided not to include China. I’m just afraid my students would be vulnerable. Most important to me is things we might consider innocent . . . might not be read as such by the authorities,” Videkanic said.
On the other hand, UW Political Science Professor Emmet Macfarlane tweeted out early this month saying, “If I have students in China and I’m teaching POLITICS I’m sure as hell not gonna change content on the basis of what a totalitarian, repressive regime allows people to see.”
Professors have had to adapt to different methods of teaching in order to accommodate students from all over the world.
“There are limits to accommodation, no matter how much universities depend on [money] from international students.”
International students studying in the fall term have expressed their concerns as well. Janhvi, a second-year Accounting and Financial Management student at UW, explains how “online school isn’t the same and it took me a while to get used to it, especially having to learn everything online through recordings and having to deal with being in a different time zone that is almost nine hours ahead of Canada.”
The university has made accommodations for students who have accessibility issues. If the student can’t watch a documentary or access a particular website due to internet restrictions in their country, the professor may make special arrangements for students or consider alternative methods if necessary.