SEAS to move all operations online

SEAS to move all classes, labs, tests online following governor’s “distance-learning” announcement

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All School of Engineering and Applied Sciences courses, including labs and tests, will be taught online beginning March 23, following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s mandatory “distance-learning model.”

Interim SEAS Dean Rajan Batta wrote in an email to students Thursday evening that SEAS faculty and staff’s main concern was for students safety and health, and because of this, students would not be required to attend in-person classes, labs or tests. 



Provost A. Scott Weber wrote that classes that require in-class participation, like labs, may not be possible in an online setting and that UB will make exceptions for these classes, in an email Wednesday.

“You do not need to be on campus for SEAS courses,” Batta said. “All instruction will take place in an online format, including labs. You will not be required to complete an on-campus exam, participate in an on-campus laboratory experiment, or attend on-campus study sessions.”

Harrison Goldstein, a freshman mechanical and aerospace engineering major, said the situation has become “hectic.”

“Some professors have what seems like solid plans in place for lectures and online learning. There are still a lot of unknowns,” Goldstein said. “We don't know if we would be able to come back, we don't know where we would be able to get help if we need it, we don't know how tests will work and we don't know how helpful online learning will be.”

Harrison Goldstein, a freshman mechanical and aerospace engineering major, said the situation has become “hectic.”

“Some professors have what seems like solid plans in place for lectures and online learning. There are still a lot of unknowns,” Goldstein said. “We don't know if we would be able to come back, we don't know where we would be able to get help if we need it, we don't know how tests will work and we don't know how helpful online learning will be.”

Josh Budihardjo, a freshman electrical engineering major, questioned whether a “distance-learning” model would create a scheduling “mess,” despite SEAS’ communication with engineering students. 

“It seems most [professors] don't know exactly how the transition will work,” Budihardjo said. “I've received emails from all of my professors or their departments and some have discussed the transition in lecture... I'm a bit worried about how effective lectures, and especially office hours, will be.”

“The best professors encourage questions and devote a lot of time to answering and clarifying the material. An online format might make that harder.”

David Ficarra, a freshman aerospace engineering major, also worries about how testing procedures will change when classes go online. His main concern is that students will cheat to obtain “higher test averages.” 

“There is no foolull-proof way of administering these tests without the possibility of some people cheating,” Ficarra said. “My EAS 230 course instructor has already stated that the test coming up next Friday will be given out at the same time for everyone. This would allow for anyone taking this test to easily get unfair assistance by utilizing the program that the test is about or [getting help from] other people [during the exam].”

Ficarra sees the change as something he’s “going to have to cope with,” but is urging his department to adopt fairer online testing practices.

“You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘cheaters never prosper’ yet, in this case, they probably will if nothing about how tests are being administered changes. Those that have enough integrity to take the test without any assistance will be at a disadvantage compared to the cheaters.”

Reilly Mullen is a news editor and can be reached at reilly.mullen@ubspectrum.com or on Twitter @ReillyMMullen

REILLY MULLEN



Reilly Mullen is the managing editor for The Spectrum. She double majors in English and political science. She enjoys arguing with frat boys and buying cool shoes.