Yonsei’s Plan B: Digitalization
December 14, 2020 by Hyerim Lee
We have all heard the news that the fourth industrial revolution was coming to us. However, the news has never seemed as real as it does now. Due to COVID-19, the digital revolution has become a tangible reality—with students’ life at Yonsei University as a manifest example. Here are some ways how offline activities, threatened by the pandemic, have revived with Yonsei’s plan B: digitalization.
1) Online interaction
Yonsei freshmen first entered a veritable digital campus prior to formal matriculation, turning to online communities in apps, such as Everytime and Yonple, as well as to those on major platforms like Facebook for advice and information about the university. This was where they got invitations to their college chatrooms, earnt about school activities, such as student clubs, and asked upperclassmen about future college life. The use of digital platforms has not diminished since—for many that have not met other pupils in person, they remain a primary source of engagement with their college community.
2) Online education
Since the first day of college, Yonsei freshmen have accessed Zoom to listen to their lectures and participate in class. Yonsei’s online platform, YSCEC, became the hub of student-professor interaction, where all notices, questions, and assignments were posted. Platforms such as Google Docs have been utilized to an unprecedented degree by students to effectively collaborate on speeches or papers. In addition to Zoom and YSCEC, various other platforms are available for free as well. Notably, Yonsei has been providing free, unlimited services to Coursera where students can listen to online courses from other institutions worldwide. Moreover, Kyobo E-books where students can read free books can also be accessed via Yonsei. As these examples show, technology has enabled learning to continue while strict social-distancing measures are in place.
3) Online School Events
Yonsei freshmen were also unable to enjoy school events—a frequently touted highlight of university life. Most prominently, students had to forego the exuberance of Akaraka, Yonsei’s school festival, and the excitement of watching the YonKo Games, the annual sports competition with Korea University. The university has attempted to fill the vacuum by hosting events online. In June, the school held an online cheering session with Korea University in which both universities’ cheerleading teams performed their respective cheer songs. In October, Yonsei University held an online session of the YonKo games, “Yon-tact-Ko” in which students competed in online games such as Overwatch and Kart Rider. Student-led school institutions also took the lead in bettering the virtual college experience. For instance, the Yonsei Educational Broadcasting Station (YBS) filmed school club showcases, such as performances by Churros, a school dance team, and Medusa, a student-run rock band. In addition to this, the Yonsei Video Arts Creator (YVAC) uploaded videos of Yonsei students discussing changes that have occurred in their lives as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
4) Online Dormitory Life
A distinct component of the Yonsei freshman experience unlike many other Korean universities is that all students must live in a dormitory in the Songdo International Campus and pass Residential College (RC) requirements for graduation. That is, students must participate in a certain minimum of dorm activities with their dorm mates. However, the majority of students did not move into the Songdo dormitories due to COVID-19 safety measures. As a result, RC programs were conducted online. Online platforms eliminated barriers to communication, such as limitations on the size of the audience, allowing Residential Assistants (RA)s to devise programs in which upperclassmen, graduates, or other prominent individuals could relay information to freshmen. RC counseling sessions have also been conducted online. They assist students who have not been on campus in building relationships with peers as well as providing them an opportunity to discuss any worries or concerns they have. Technology has allowed freshmen to develop a sense of belonging, despite being unable to meet in person.
Digital platforms have never been as important in our lives as they are now. Although the real experience of physically going to campus and encountering different people is incomparable to the status quo, technology has prevented a complete shutdown of society. Whether this reliance on technology will continue or disappear in the post-COVID era remains to be seen.