By: Abraham Kanter  | 

Asynchronous Hebrew: A Disastrous Experience

I just came back from a Yeshiva University leadership trip in Morocco, where I learned the importance of speaking up and fighting for things that make our community grow. With this in mind, I was able to think long and hard about what happened with the entire asynchronous Hebrew department. It is easy to take advantage of an asynchronous class, as there is very little way to stop it. I have seen many people cheat in this class. It is very easy to evade Proctorio, and rather than make cheating more difficult, it just turns it into a skill that is rewarded through practice. I am and have always been a man of honesty and integrity. I never have cheated and do not want to cheat in the future, and I plan on sticking to that. 

With this in mind, my final grade made me feel disappointed. Never in my life did I think I would receive such a terrible grade in a class that is meant to help us with our future and our religion. I spent a lot of time preparing for the final, but I never would have guessed I would do as poorly as I did. 

I don't believe that a class that is rooted in Jewish values can be asynchronous and be this vulnerable to cheating. It seems like YU is prioritizing funds over academics by constructing an obscure way to teach a class that is proven to not work. I believe that it is unreasonable to expect that anyone can learn a new language simply by watching videos and taking quizzes. These classes become even more difficult when a professor’s office hours are during times that students are unavailable. For example, my professor’s office hours were during shiur time, which created a difficult dilemma of choosing between shiur and discussing my growth in Hebrew.

There are also many ways for Canvas errors to interfere with the ability to complete assignments. It happened very frequently that assignments were not posted on Canvas and I was not able to submit them (since we are not allowed to submit assignments by email). To top that off, late assignments are not allowed. It is very frustrating to have completed an assignment and be unable to turn it in due to a computer glitch on my end and be told to speak with Proctorio’s customer service through the phone.

As a college student, I have to juggle time efficiently in order to get everything done. I consistently attend morning shiur and take five secular classes, so I am very limited on time to begin with. Additionally, I am involved in clubs and extracurricular activities on and off campus. Now let’s add in 4 hours a night of study and homework time, not including my Hebrew assignments. I had to take time away from my other homework to do this and I would end up with less time to study and do other assignments for other classes. I know that some people realized this and decided they didn't want to waste their time going through all the Hebrew videos, practices and quizzes if they can just skip it all and use google translate. I did not want to do this, so I skimmed through the lectures and took the quizzes ethically. This way I saved time for my other assignments and didn't cheat. My results from staying loyal to my values were poor grades in this course. 

I felt that the preparation for the final was unfairly geared toward those students who already had some level of fluency. It is extremely difficult to study the hundreds of vocabulary words, and even then, these words might not have applied to the final.

I know that I received the worst grade on the final. For someone who approached the class ethically and honestly, this was extremely disappointing. I know that I am not the only one who feels this way. I think that this is a major issue that needs to be dealt with so that future YU students don’t suffer as I did and be able to create a positive experience learning Hebrew.

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Photo Caption: Hebrew 1030 Asynchronous

Photo Credit: Abraham Kanter