As classes are taught remotely and COVID-19 precautions limit in-person interactions, hunkering down in a Davis Library study room to prepare for a group project isn't possible anymore.
But UNC students have gone beyond the classroom to connect with their peers. Whether through GroupMe chats or Zoom study groups — students are finding virtual ways to interact with their classmates during a remote semester.
“I've made group chats for all my classes just so that we all have a way to communicate with each other and vent if we need to," said Husna Kider, a first-year neuroscience major. “I've done study sessions for calculus — MATH 231 — because I know a lot of us were behind at one point, so I thought it would be a great way for us to reach out with other students in the class who know what they're doing."
Kider said she and a handful of her peers have started a small study group that meets over Zoom for their calculus class — and got a feel for what it's like to be a virtual teacher.
“We usually went over homework problems that we were struggling on, and then did them together so we would know how to proceed and just, like, go through it,” Kider said. “There are definitely some technology issues. Participating in a teacher's meeting is different, but hosting your own meeting is completely different. It's like having to learn how to use the technology so everyone can learn in a better way."
Zorah Davis, a first-year communication studies major, has a group chat for her Introduction to Media History, Theory, and Criticism class.
“Since we aren't on-campus and can't actually connect with people in person , I wouldn't say I’m making friends through the group chat, but I definitely feel like I'm not the only one struggling through this, and I've got this group to struggle with me together," Davis said.
Dalal Azzam, a first-year graduate student in the Division of Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling program, has also been using platforms like GroupMe to keep in touch with her cohorts on campus that have the same classes with her. Azzam said the group chat has helped build her social life around her academic life — even as she is living in Texas this semester.
There are downsides to online communication tools, such as the fact that it is harder to pick up on nonverbal communication, Azzam said. But overall, she said she is optimistic.