Virtual Learning or Virtually Learning?

Virtual Learning or Virtually Learning?

Virtual Learning or Virtually Learning?

Survey on Online Courses


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic Webster University has moved to online classes for the whole of Spring 2 term. Physical classes are expected to resume as usual for Fall 1, after the summer. Students now have anywhere from 1-6 courses happening online. Many teachers offered the option of doing their course as a pass or fail, meaning a student can either pass or fail without the grade affecting their GPA. I sent out an anonymous survey to Webster students about how these classes are impacting their learning ability and whether they are a good alternative to physical classes. 

Nearly half of the students said that they had taken online classes before, however, most online classes at Webster are different, they do not have the current WebEx format. Other online classes require work to be done and turned in each week but there are no meetings with the teacher and the class. WebEx adds many additional complications to classes. 

Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, only 19% of students said that they felt like they were learning in their current online courses. Most students said that they had trouble staying engaged, making it difficult to learn. The rest, 16%, just said they have not learned anything. Much of this may be due to interest and motivation dropping. 81% of those asked, said that their overall interest in their courses has dropped since moving online and they are not putting in the same amount of effort.

Have you taken online classes before?

Are online teaching methods effective?

Do you feel that overall interest has dropped?

Even though students don’t feel like they are able to learn new content a majority are receiving more work now than in their physical classes. The same proportion of students, 58%, feel more inclined to cheat in their courses. The increase in work coupled with an inclination to cheat, the ability to access the internet at every moment, and lack of motivation have made the integrity of assignments questionable. 

Do you have more or less work than when on campus?

Have you been inclined to cheat in your courses?

Being online makes it easy to cheat although it also comes with its own problems. 62% of students said that they are affected by internet problems such as being unable to connect to WebEx, unable to hear the teacher, or unable to see video. Even in households with good wi-fi having several classes and/or conference calls going at the same time is difficult to maintain, this is the case in my house. If a class is missed due to bad internet then it is difficult to make up. As an international school Webster professors have the additional problem of many students missing class due to different time zones. Only 8% of those asked said that they miss class because of being in a different time zone but this is the case for many American study abroads, who account for a large portion of Webster’s student base. 

Are you negatively affected by internet problems?

Do you miss class because you are in a different time zone?

While online classes definitely don’t yield the same results as physical classes, they are the best alternative that we have in these unprecedented times. They are better than having nothing because they allow students to continue or finish their studies, however, they are not a replacement and I do not recommend them in the future. The general consensus between students is that even though there is less pressure doing classes in a home environment there is also less motivation, more work, and less comprehension. We students may complain about our courses, our homework, or even our professors, but after this period of being away from campus I think we are all ready to be back at Webster, taking classes with our friends!

Tuscany Trip

Tuscany Trip

The 10 days over March break offer the opportunity to take two classes at the same time in Italy. Students can decide to enroll in one class or take them both for a total of six credits. The first class is FTVP 3150 Topics in Film, Television and Video Production with professor Keith Strandberg. The second is one of two classes that alternate every other year: PHOT 2500 Photojournalism or PHOT 4000 Photo Workshop with professor Francesco Arese Visconti. 

The students and professors stay in an Agriturismo within Tuscany for a majority of the trip as well as visiting Pisa and Florence. Two days are spent walking on the Via Francigena, an ancient road and pilgrim route running from France to Rome. 

The purpose of the class is for students to learn the basics of filmmaking and journalism. They create short videos, as well as taking photos and writing blog posts about their experience. As it mainly covers basics the class is suitable for students of any experience level.

The Agriturismo

photo by Fernanda Faria Zagato 

Sunset view from the villa

photo by Sacha Allen

Francesco shooting on a Rolleiflex

photo by Zain Abbas

The Via Francigena

photo by Zain Abbas

Tuscan Trek - The Via Francigena

photo by Caitlyn Fish

Istanbul Street Life

Istanbul Street Life

Over October break I went to Istanbul with my roommate, who is a Turkish citizen. She was my guide through places that tourists don’t know about. I noticed quickly that the streets were covered with stray animals and my roommate informed me that in Turkey stray animals are all owned by the government. Each animal is tagged, tracked, and taken care of. It is illegal to mistreat the animals so people will leave out food and water for them. This has made them extremely friendly so they hang out in public spaces, unbothered by people, and allow you to pet them. I thought this a great way to deal with street animals, as well as being extremely cute so I took advantage to snap a few shots on film, which I then developed at Webster.

Webster’s Got Talented Students

Webster’s Got Talented Students

Singers, dancers, musicians, and magicians. Webster’s Got Talent has it all. Every year the multi-talented students of Webster Geneva sign up to compete in our most exciting event. This year it consisted of nine students and seven performances. Contestants were Amir Mominbayev, Youssef Negm, Lucas Barbey, Jerah Barredo, Polina Flenova, Dravid Lord, Hulda Calix, Peter Hofmann and Josue Lopez. Participants are critiqued by a panel of three judges but ultimately the winner is decided by voting in the audience.

To open the show Dravid Lord sings “Love in the Dark” by Adele with Polina Flenova accompanying him on keyboards.

In a soulful and tear-jerking performance Jerah Barredo sings “Say Something” by A Great Big World. She got the crowd emotional and earned non-stop applause.

Youssef Negm performs a musical comedy piece, playing guitar and singing along to “Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears. He also included audience interaction!

Lucas Barbey sings “Better” by Khalid, adding in some dance moves!

Polina Flenova and Hulda Calix dance with guest judge Youssef Awad, a Webster Geneva alumni. Youssef, a dancer himself, joined Polina and Hulda on stage after watching them perform and asked them to teach him some moves.

Amir Mominbayev shows off powerful vocals singing “Given Up” by Linkin Park. Amir came in second place and drove the crowd crazy.

Winners Youssef Negm, Peter Hofmann, and Josue Lopez. They performed an original piece with drums, guitar, and keyboard that they created after beginning to play together in Webster’s Music Club.

Millennial Mentality

Millennial Mentality

Throughout my time here at Webster, there was a term that I began to hear with increasing frequency, and eventually learned to recognize as a positive thing: mental health day. On these days the burden of work, school, and other responsibilities become overbearing and sometimes a breather is the only option to refocus in order to reset. Students will take these “mental health days” off of work or school just to get a much-needed break. I do this myself when my stress levels get out of hand.


Of course, this should not be confused with laziness. While some students may be apathetic and do not put in the effort, most others are battling stress, anxiety, and depression (sometimes unknowingly) without the proper knowledge or experience to cope with it. Potentially the largest issue is that many people, such as peers, parents, and professors, do not understand the severity of the situation. Millennials and young adults are often called “whiny” or “lazy” by older generations even though that is the opposite of what I believe to be true.


A lot of our newfound pressure comes from the increase in social media. We are told that we are not good enough because on social media platforms we see the “perfect” examples of who people are rather than the reality. We are given unrealistic expectations as to how our life should play out, how we should look, even how we should act. The harsh reality is that the world is not as sweet as portrayed on social media. With the current progression, if we get a degree we are not guaranteed a steady job, and that the environment is in immediate danger.


There’s a lot to be worried about, and it’s normal to be dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression, however I think mental health days are a good thing because it means this generation is doing something about it. Many young adults are trying to shake the stigma around mental health that previous generations grew up with by talking about it. Mental health issues have always been present in society, but now we have the courage, the ability, and the knowledge to speak up about them. We have decided to say that feeling overwhelmed with anxiety and depression is not okay and to put our mental health first.


Luckily at Webster, students have the option to get help with access to free counseling on campus, which is an amazing opportunity that not many people recieve. Many students are not informed of this possibility and therefore may miss out on seeking help when they need it. Bringing awareness to mental health issues and the resources we have to combat it can make a massive difference in the well-being of students and young adults as a whole.


I have seen the dangers of mental health firsthand, and what can happen if the situation gets out of control. It’s scary and what’s worse is it’s easily preventable. I think our generation is making massive steps in the right direction but we need to continue doing everything we can to normalize talking about mental health issues and how to treat them.