S1:E9 Larissa Hale & Zachary Boyd – Students’ perspective on campus tech resources
March 29, 2021 | Students
Juniors at Utah State University, Larissa and Zachary share about their experiences with campus computer labs, remote classes and how campus activities were disrupted by the pandemic.
Tyler Jacobson 0:02
Welcome to LabChats, a podcast from the team at LabStats. I’m Tyler Jacobson, your host for today’s episode. Each week we’ll sit down with technology leaders in higher education to get the latest buzz and insights while we discuss current events, trends, problems and solutions. Now let’s get into it.
Tyler Jacobson 0:20
With us today, we have Larissa Hale and Zachary Boyd students at Utah State University. Larrissa and Zack, why don’t you just take a minute or two and introduce yourselves and let us know what you’re studying.
Larissa Hale 0:34
Okay, my name is Larissa Hale. This is my second year at Utah State and I am studying public relations with a minor in marketing. And I am taking many classes right now dealing with multimedia, and getting experienced with different computer software, and cameras and video and all that kind of stuff right now.
Zachary Boyd 0:58
My name is Zachary Boyd. It’s also my second year at Utah State. I’m a history major. And I’m really excited to have this conversation today. Because due to COVID-19, I’m actually purely online right now. So I’ve noticed some difficulties with the school’s online utilization for students.
Tyler Jacobson 1:18
Okay, to start off with when you guys started school, what equipment Did you personally come to school with as far as electronics?
Zachary Boyd 1:27
So I personally have a mini iPad that I’ve never used. But I also have a MacBook Air that I use primarily for all of my school resources, unless I have something that takes a bigger file or a different program. And then I have to go to campus to use one of the desktops.
Larissa Hale 1:45
I came to school with a laptop, and it has given me a lot of problems. So I’m currently using somebody else’s laptop for the remainder of this year while I seek to buy a new one. And I also use the computers on campus a lot for some of my other projects.
Tyler Jacobson 2:04
Okay, so what do you guys go to the school computers specifically, to use?
Larissa Hale 2:11
So in my multimedia class, right now, we use a lot of audacity, Photoshop, and Adobe Premiere to do multiple projects. So I don’t have that software on my laptop because it’s really expensive, and it’s not provided for us. So I have to go on campus to use those programs because they provide it on the desktops and like the library and other computers on campus.
Zachary Boyd 2:41
And I personally just go when I have a file that’s going to be too big for my computer, because on my MacBook, I don’t have a ton of space right now. So typically, if I have to do a big assignment, I’ll go to the desktop at the library.
Tyler Jacobson 2:55
So, have you guys found that it’s pretty easy to find a computer on campus like, Zach, you’re talking about space? Are you taking an external drive? Larissa, it sounds like you need specific software packages. Would it be helpful to be able to remote into a school computer and be able to get that software?
Larissa Hale 3:16
[It would] be extremely helpful for me I know, there’s just it’d be like, a lot easier. Because right after I finished taking pictures from my class or taking video from my class, if I could just automatically get on my laptop from home and upload those pictures and different files on to Adobe Premiere , it would save me a lot of time instead of having to wait for a lab to be open or something for me to go all the way up to campus and use the desktops to do my project.
Zachary Boyd 3:48
I also agree with Larissa, I think it would be one of the most beneficial investments that the university could go forward with for future students and current students at Utah State. And I think it would be extremely beneficial just because you don’t know necessarily which computer is going to have what programs on it. The computers in the business building could be completely different from the library in the Student Union Building, and you just have no clue you basically have to bounce around and just hope for a computer that has what you’re looking for. And that kind of became hard for myself when I was looking for PowerPoint at the business building. And for some reason it wasn’t on the computer there. So I had to walk across campus to the Student Union Building where I finally found one that had it.
Tyler Jacobson 4:31
Is there a source that you can go to to find out what is available on campus?
Zachary Boyd 4:36
Not that I’ve been able to find.
Larissa Hale 4:39
My teacher is kind of like: “The desktops on campus will have Adobe Premiere,” but it’s just kind of hit or miss. You kind of have to just figure out which ones have it and which ones don’t.
Tyler Jacobson 4:51
Okay, so it would be helpful to have either a website or a mobile app or something that you could surface what’s available?
Larissa Hale 5:00
Zachary Boyd 5:01
I would be completely on board with the app. I think that’d be a great idea.
Tyler Jacobson 5:06
Do you guys know if the school has a mobile app?
Larissa Hale 5:10
We have three mobile apps. We have one for campus safety, one for athletics, and one for…
Zachary Boyd 5:19
Aggie Shuttle which is just the bus.
Larissa Hale 5:21
And then I guess if you include Canvas, but it would be really helpful if we could somehow get it all onto one app, like if we had an app that located different computers that were open and had certain programs that you were looking for. And then we also included the bus and the safety as well as like events happening on campus and ways to be able to like if I could just scan my phone to get into the marketplace like that would be so awesome to go eat and stuff like that, like, it just be really nice to have everything I need for school on one app, as well as like assignments and stuff.
Zachary Boyd 5:57
Two things when I thought about it, that I think would be great with an app is buying tickets to athletic events would be so much easier if it could just be through an app. And you could see when exactly the home dates are in a way dates. And I think also Secondly, I wish there was a way to track tuition payments, not just through our Banner account, if it was on the app, it’d be so much easier to follow. And even if we could set up a credit or debit card with the university through the app, they could make automatic payments that send us like a push notification. That’d be extremely beneficial for myself.
Larissa Hale 6:27
[Because] Banner is really hard to use. And it’s really confusing.
Zachary Boyd 6:30
Tyler Jacobson 6:31
Okay, so it sounds like you guys are well on your way to designing the perfect mobile app for students to use.
Larissa Hale 6:39
[I don’t know if] we can design it, but we have plenty of ideas for it.
Tyler Jacobson 6:44
So if that app existed, and it had all those things in it, would you use it? And how often would you use it?
Larissa Hale 6:50
I think I would use it every day, I use the shuttle app by itself every day just to be able to see when the buses are coming and stuff. And so I mean, there, I would already be using it every single day and to look for computers and stuff. That would be really, really nice.
Zachary Boyd 7:05
If the app existed, I would have had it for at least two years. Yeah, definitely I would use it.
Tyler Jacobson 7:11
You had mentioned Canvas Larissa. What do you use Canvas for?
Larissa Hale 7:17
Canvas pretty much runs my life right now…it shows me, like, it has the to do section where it tells me all the assignments I have upcoming for the next week and a half or so. So that keeps me really on track. Like if I am ever worried [about] like what I need to do I can just go there. And then it tells me like when all my grades come in and allows teachers to comment on the stuff I submit so I know where I can improve and stuff like that. And it’s really, really helpful. And I can message my teachers and get clarification on assignments and stuff.
Tyler Jacobson 7:54
Is Canvas a primary source where you go to get what resources are available for each class?
Larissa Hale 8:00
Yeah, definitely. Yeah. If I don’t know that, like if I don’t know where to go, then I can message my teacher on Canvas and ask and stuff like that. To return stuff and all that kind of stuff.
Tyler Jacobson 8:13
Tell me just a little about a little bit about each of your learning styles. Does it help to have written like transcripts of classes? Are you more audio learners? Are you more visual? Where video are things like [that are useful]? What’s the best way for you to learn?
Larissa Hale 8:29
I’m definitely a visual learner. I’m also taking stats right now. And I know that it’s been really, really helpful for me to have the Zoom recordings available to me so that I can go back and watch her do examples of problems and stuff like that. Because otherwise I would not be able to remember how to do certain things if I couldn’t watch her do example problems over and over again.
Tyler Jacobson 8:56
So have the Zoom recordings always been available? Or was that a pandemic thing?
Larissa Hale 9:02
I think they’ve been available for a while now I remember one of my friends that took stats last year before COVID and hers were always recorded and stuff. So I know for sure, I know math has had those recorded two people can go back and watch them. But I don’t know about if any other classes do that. Zach, do you know?
Zachary Boyd 9:23
in the past, the only teacher that’s made me aware of this capability was just one history teacher here at Utah State. That’s all I’ve known of that was recorded. But after COVID-19 I’ve noticed every single class has the recordings and upload them almost every day on the canvas.
Tyler Jacobson 9:39
So is that as far as you’re learning? Are you also a visual learner?
Zachary Boyd 9:44
I would say mostly visual with a little bit of audio, but I like to see a PowerPoint in front of me and then just hear the teacher completely explain it to me. And so that’s been really good ever since COVID-19. Like I mentioned, having those uploaded every day. So if I ever need to go back I can just go back and rewatch the part that didn’t necessarily make sense to me. So that’s been like a great improvement to this point. And it’s helped me immensely. In my studies, I’ve noticed my grades have even gotten better.
Tyler Jacobson 10:13
Which would you guys use if they were all available? Would you guys use…obviously, you’ll use the recordings of the lectures through video with transcripts or an audio only link also be helpful?
Zachary Boyd 10:29
I think for myself transcripts probably wouldn’t just because I like to have it explained to me, like, be able to hear it, but I do know some people like my good friend Tom, would love the transcripts, because it would help him understand what’s being taught more efficiently at his own pace. But for myself, I think that it would help to have like, the audio uploaded as well.
Larissa Hale 10:53
Yeah, I would like the videos best I think. Like Zach said with Tom…people with language barriers. I think the transcripts would help a lot for that kind of stuff. But I personally like the video with the audio.
Tyler Jacobson 11:08
Where do you guys study for the majority of your time?
Larissa Hale 11:13
I mostly study either in my room or at the library. If it’s like a really big project I’m working on or something that I need to really focus on, then I’ll go to the library. But if it’s just like a small assignment, I’m working than I usually just do it at home.
Zachary Boyd 11:32
I’m probably about the same as Larissa.
Tyler Jacobson 11:35
So majority at home and using campus resources as needed, according to the limitations that you have that we’ve already talked about. While we’re talking about classes: do you have any requirements that instructors make for certain things. Larissa, you mentioned that some of your assignments have to use Adobe Premiere. Are there other examples where there are resources that you have to utilize in order to complete your coursework?
Zachary Boyd 12:07
Yeah, I actually have two examples. Right now, it’s the first time I’ve ever had a class that differs from Canvas. But I have a political science class right now, that requires me to download Pearson Revel, which is just like the bookstore, so I have to go to the book, and I do all my assignments there. And then they transfer the information over to Canvas. And then also in my food and nutrition class, I have to have McGraw-Hill Connect, which is where I do all my assignments and tests and quizzes on there. And then once again, it connects it over to Canvas. So this semester has been different in that sense, because I have three to four different websites, I have to balance to make sure that I’m getting all my assignments and tests done. So I definitely have different requirements from my professors, especially this year.
Larissa Hale 12:56
I was also required to download an app called Top Hat for my stats class. And we use it during class. [My professor] put[s] questions throughout the class that all of us need to answer. And then that’s also where she assigns our homework is on Top Hat. So I yeah, I need that to do the whole class pretty much.
Tyler Jacobson 13:20
You guys have both been there for two years. So you had pretty much one year that was quote unquote, normal, and one that was highly disrupted. How did that change between your first year and your second? How did the pandemic disrupt you and your education?
Zachary Boyd 13:40
It was definitely hard for myself at first because I went from all in person classes to all online without one centralized place where I could learn how to best succeed in an online format. Which is why…I mean, I know we talked about this earlier, but the app would have been completely beneficial for myself going through this transitional period, if there could have just been one centralized place that would have helped me better understand how to utilize my resources in the online format. But instead, I was kind of just on my own and had to do that. So, that’s what I would say.
Larissa Hale 14:17
Yeah, it was definitely really hard for me. I have a hard time focusing when I’m at home watching a zoom class. So, it was really hard for me to switch to all online. Because I felt like by the end of the lecture, I had been doing 200 things and hadn’t listened to a single word of what they were saying. When the year previous like when you’re in the classroom, you’re there to learn and focus so that made that a lot easier.
Tyler Jacobson 14:45
Outside of the classroom, how did it impact the feel of campus and social elements of the college experience?
Zachary Boyd 14:54
It was actually kind of sad to watch the difference between my freshman year and my sophomore year. My freshman year, I definitely felt like I was at college. I was with people on campus, there’s activities on campus. And this year, I mean, of course, because it’s a global pandemic, but there was just nothing taking place on campus. And when there was, it wasn’t easily distributed. Like I had no clue what was taking place until it was too late. And I saw it on Utah State’s Instagram story. So it has been a drastic difference and it is sad. But hopefully this next year, we’ll kind of get back to what college is…quote, “supposed” to feel like.
Larissa Hale 15:32
Tyler Jacobson 15:33
So what where are you at now? Are you guys largely back on campus? Or is that something that’s still in between on campus and remote.
Zachary Boyd 15:43
Hybrid, it’s a hybrid right now. It’s probably 60% online to 70% online, to 30% in person, and it’s all socially distant. All classes, basically, you have one day in person. And then two days, where you’re online,
Larissa Hale 16:00
I have three classes that are all in person. And then I have one class, that’s a hybrid where we alternate what days we go on.
Tyler Jacobson 16:11
Has it impacted opportunities for student employment or things like that?
Larissa Hale 16:16
I’m currently employed through Utah State University. And it has definitely affected employment, we are very short staffed right now, because a lot of people are still living at home and just taking classes remotely. And so there’s not a lot of students on campus to work through the university right now, is what I’m noticing,
Zachary Boyd 16:40
I’m also employed by Utah State University in the athletics department. And there’s been about three times this year where my job was just hanging in the balance. There was one time I moved down here in July, planning on being here for athletics. And then a week after I was here, and I [got] told to go back home. So it’s been interesting. And my job has been very…I guess “interesting” would be the word to say in terms of stability this year? So that’ll definitely be exciting to get back to knowing when and how my job will be performed.
Tyler Jacobson 17:15
What are you guessing the next year is going to look like? Is it still going to be hybrid? Are you hearing much from the school on what’s going to happen for the next year?
Larissa Hale 17:24
So Utah State…Noelle Cockett, our President of the school came out and said that we’re going to be 75% in person…by next fall. So that’s really exciting, because I feel like that’s actually probably where we were at originally. We had a lot of online classes, even when things were normal. So that’s really exciting to hear that I think we’re going to be mostly back to normal by fall.
Zachary Boyd 17:48
Yeah, and I think activities will hopefully be close behind. True Aggie nights have been canceled all year. Until this past week, there was a drag night…and nobody actually kissed on the “A” but people got Hershey Kisses. So it’s good to see activities taking place again.
Tyler Jacobson 18:05
[So] what activities pre pandemic Did you guys largely participate in? Was it mostly athletic events? Were there other social events? What did you gravitate towards?
Zachary Boyd 18:16
In the fall semester, there were quite a few things happening on campus, there was like a registration fair, where you could go around and see the different fraternities and different clubs and there was a ferris wheel and some food trucks. And like I mentioned before True Aggie night, because that’s just a tradition for all Utah State students to become a True Aggie on the A. That’s always exciting for freshmen and anybody else to go to. And then we have high stakes bingo, which is always super fun. You can just go and win free stuff. You sign up with your student card and activities like that are typically what I gravitated towards. I know Larissa likes to go to the dances. There was a masquerade ball and swing dance classes and stuff.
Larissa Hale 18:56
Yeah, I was a member of the swing dance club and things like that. So I’m really excited for that stuff to come back so you can get involved again,
Tyler Jacobson 19:10
Have they made any announcements on that coming back, on the timeframe for when that will be back?
Larissa Hale 19:15
They’re starting to bring swing dance back, I know that they’ve limited the numbers a lot like they used to be, there was no limit on the amount of people that could come and now they limit how many people can get in. I think you can only dance with the person you come with. Like you have to go with someone and so there’s like a lot of limitations. So it’s not the same, but they’re starting to slowly bring it back just with accommodations and stuff.
Tyler Jacobson 19:40
Yeah, I can imagine that it would be very challenging to swing dance while socially distanced.
Larissa Hale 19:47
Yeah, yeah, it’s just air swing dancing.
Tyler Jacobson 19:52
(laughs) How are you guys feeling about your education? Like do you feel as though your education has substantially suffered during the pandemic? Or have things gone, as well as could be expected. Considering the circumstances.
Larissa Hale 20:05
I’ve definitely noticed that this semester has been my worst semester school in my whole life. (laughs) And that could be just because like I’m taking really hard classes this semester, but it definitely doesn’t help that I’m not in person. And I just feel like I’m not learning nearly as much as I could be. And so my grades like the worst they’ve been like, since I started school in first grade. So I don’t know…it has not been my favorite semester to say the least.
Zachary Boyd 20:34
And I would actually say the opposite of Larissa. I feel like this semester has been good for myself, because I’ve been able to take a step back, and truly focus just on myself. I do miss the in person classes, but I feel like I’ve actually learned how I should be studying in college this semester. So there’s some pros to it. But I will be very, very grateful for when I can return to in person classes with people and teachers again,
Tyler Jacobson 20:59
How has it gone, with the instructors and the professors? Have they been largely available? Or has it been challenging to connect with them over the last year?
Zachary Boyd 21:10
I think it’s easy to get a hold of them over email, but it’s hard to get that one on one face time that you can get with professors’ office hours. That’s probably the thing that I missed the most is being able to go to their office hours and just ask questions. Because now, I mean, you’re not going to just set up a one on one Zoom call with your professor.
Larissa Hale 21:27
It’s a little awkward.
Zachary Boyd 21:29
So I definitely missed that. So I would say the accessibility is around the same, because they will email you back. But I’ll say that the value that you get from reaching out to a professor has [had] a steep decline through this Zoom world.
Larissa Hale 21:45
Yeah. I agree with that.
Tyler Jacobson 21:48
It’s easier to stop by and chat with them than it is to communicate through any written means, like emails or anything like that. So what are the things that you like? You guys both said that there were some things that have kind of been positives that have come out about it? What are the things that you hope stick around when we return to a quote unquote, “normal”?
Zachary Boyd 22:10
I hope that teachers uploading their lectures sticks around [and] not just for the harder subjects. But I hope for every subject, teachers will always upload their lectures, their notes, and things of that sort, because that truly helped me study so much more. And I think that’s the main reason that my studying habits have gotten better. Because I can go back and rewatch so I hope that stays around, for sure.
Larissa Hale 22:33
Yeah, also, along with that, we have to realize that even when like this pandemic is gone, people are still gonna get sick and have things come up where they need to miss class for whatever reason. And by having those online lectures recorded and put on canvas, it makes it like a lot less stressful, that students know that they have that opportunity to go back and watch the things they’ve missed.
Tyler Jacobson 22:58
All right. Well, I greatly appreciate having you both join me on LabChats. I wish you all the best with your education. And I appreciate the feedback you’ve given. It’s really nice to hear the students’ perspective, because anybody that’s in education, that’s really what it’s all about is helping the students. So thank you very much for your time and your input. Thank you.
Zachary Boyd 23:23
Thanks for having us on.
Larissa Hale 23:24
Of course, yeah!
Tyler Jacobson 23:25
That’s all for today’s episode of LabChats, be sure to subscribe so you’ll be notified when a new LabChats episode is posted each week. We’ll see you next time.