Mathematics was also to be expected this summer

08.12.2020, by Alexander Simon Konrad

The summer semester started uniquely for us students of the Master's programme in Mathematics for well-known reasons. The decision to hold all courses in online format immediately before the start of the semester was swiftly implemented in the study programme. The first lecture in each course had its own difficulties, but the start-up problems were all quickly solved. As the semester progressed, technical problems were a rarity. Thanks to good organisation on the part of the HFT Stuttgart and our professors, we didn't have to do without anything in terms of content either. Thus, the online lectures were equal to their real counterparts in many points.

Since we students all knew each other from the Bachelor's programme in mathematics, the ice was quickly broken and we tried to support the professors in the lectures by actively participating. After all, it's not easy to talk to a script and self-made drawings for 90 minutes. Above all, without eye contact it is difficult to gauge whether the students are able to follow the content. But our teachers seemed to cope well with this and we were actively involved in the lectures.

For us students, however, this semester did not go completely smoothly. Concentration often waned during four lectures in a row - especially when you had to look at the screen continuously. But with time, we also got used to it.

Beyond the video conferences, we students were also in an unfamiliar position due to a lack of routine and no common learning meeting points. The last point in particular was a challenge for a large number of us. Many of us always learned the lecture material in group work during our previous study time. Thus, for years, a large proportion of mathematics students studied almost without exception in the university buildings. In the first two thirds of this semester, mutual motivation was rare, as physical meetings were not possible and we were very reluctant to engage in pure learning via Skype. However, after a long period of settling in and when the pressure did start to be felt, online learning began to take place together as well.

Taking all these aspects into consideration, it can be said that even though the conditions this semester were not ideal for the start of our Master's programme, our professors made the best of the situation. Despite the last-minute decision to close all universities nationwide, classes were able to start online after just one week. We were kept informed of further actions and decisions throughout, and we managed to meet the content demands of an ordinary semester.