Interning on the Front Lines of Remote Teaching & Learning at BU
As the Spring semester of 2020 comes to a close, Boston University winds down half of a digital semester, and we’d like to reflect on our experiences as freshmen joining the taskforce at the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was February when the two of us were called in with the good news that we had both been brought onto the Digital Learning & Innovation team, though unbeknownst to us it was going to be much more than we had interviewed for. Our first official meeting was virtual, over an application that neither of us had ever used before: Zoom. It was meant for efficiency and flexibility amidst class schedules, but this would turn out to be a crucial trial run for weeks to come.
After explaining to us what their goals for us through the internship would be, the DL&I team invited us to their base of operations to meet everyone we would be working with. A tour of the Bay State headquarters gave us the opportunity to gain our footing and get acquainted with a very welcoming group of coworkers. As we walked through the many offices, we were greeted by friendly smiles and introduced to the DL&I family. At the time, we didn’t know just how great it would be to be a part of this wonderful community.
We left the building feeling excited and ready to get started with our first tasks. All of our meetings from then on out would take place though Zoom, which initially took some getting used to, but by now has become second nature. For our first task, we had to provide feedback on various learning tools we had been beta-testing. It was difficult at first to be critical of the virtual tools we were able to test, but during our next meetings the DL&I team were incredibly accepting of all of the feedback we had to offer. We were worried that some of our comments might be too nit-picky, but even those were met with open arms.
As student interns, it’s often difficult for us to feel like equals amongst experienced professionals, but this fear quickly disappeared with the DL&I team. Going above and beyond all our expectations, we weren’t just offered a seat at the table – we were asked to sit at the head.
As Boston University was transitioning to online learning, we were asked to put together a Zoom Student Guide to help students navigate the new “normal” everyone was faced with. All of our other projects were put on pause, and for good reason: we were needed now more than ever. This responsibility was particularly meaningful to us, especially since we felt as though we could directly contribute to creating the best possible experience for students under these unprecedented circumstances. After working together to craft and publish the student guide, we were asked to interview fellow students from different colleges across BU to learn more about their experiences and any issues they may have been facing with remote learning during these difficult times.
This was in preparation for one of our most important assignments: the privilege of being invited to virtually present our student perspectives to multiple panels of faculty members. By speaking to our peers and learning about what they were going through, we were able to give faculty some insight into student experiences and what they could do to help moving forward. It was an honor to be able to represent the entire student body in front of concerned and attentive educators.
As the semester comes to an end, we couldn’t be more thankful to have had these experiences and we feel incredibly lucky to be able to call ourselves members of the DL&I team. We haven’t just met new colleagues, we have also gained new mentors who have guided and encouraged us every step of the way. As an added bonus, we’ve had the pleasure of working with each other, and have each made a new friend.
About the Authors:
Yashica Kataria is a rising sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences ’23, majoring in political science and minoring in computer science. She is pursuing a career in law and is passionate about politics, activism, and debate.
Charles McGinn is a rising sophomore in the College of Engineering ’23, majoring in mechanical engineering and minoring in computer engineering. He is pursuing a career in product design and is passionate about sustainability, community, and creative expression.