Photo Credit: Sven Brandsma via Unsplash

Volunteer Contributor – Leena Hosien

 

 

I’ve gone around and asked a few students for their thoughts on the online learning environment and, being a student myself, I was not surprised by their answers.

 

These three students provide a glimpse at the wide range of views and sentiments that I heard through interviews.

 

First off, some think of the online environment as a wondrous temporary substitute, if not a permanent one, for in-person learning. 

 

“Online learning suits me well as I would classify myself as a fairly shy person,” said Laura Stansfield, a masters student in Applied Linguistics with a specialization in TESL. “Learning online is a lot less intimidating as I feel less like I’m being judged and more like others are listening to my commentary on the class content.” 

 

Additionally, Stansfield said that the comfort of being at home keeps her from having to rush so as to not be late for class. 

 

While Stansfield believes that it is largely positive, she did express some issues she has had while working remotely this year.

 

“One major con is that some professors assume that all 24 hours of the day are dedicated to them and their class, meaning they can assign more work than normal. [As a result,] I find they assign unrealistic amounts of readings and assignments to the point where I struggle to manage my time adequately between classes while still having time for myself,” said Stansfield.

 

Another common sentiment I heard was that some, overall, felt mixed about the move to remote learning this year.

 

“[I’m] lucky to have gotten the general university experience of being in an actual lecture hall during my previous years of university so I did not experience fear of missing out,” said Monica Gan, a fifth-year Bachelor of Business Administration student. 

 

Happy to not have missed any of these iconic experiences, Gan agrees with Stansfield in terms of her classes having refocused their attention on the course content. 

 

Furthermore, Gan said that she would rather not continue her education online. 

 

“I crave the normal educational experience of being at university. I miss sitting in lecture halls, going to the library to do work, gaining valuable friendships and attending networking events,” said Gan.

 

Although greater comfort and flexibility are commonly stated as being amazing benefits to this new online environment, some would claim that these benefits don’t make up for that which is lost.  

 

“Online learning is very impersonal,” said Katerina Valcheff, a very recent Child and Youth Studies and Sociology graduate. 

 

Valcheff feels as though being online lacks one of the most essential parts of being a university student: getting to know your classmates and professors. She provided a recommendation for professors to try and remedy this.

 

“To make online learning more personal, professors could schedule office hours and/or student check-in sessions and facilitate and encourage discussions among students,” said Valcheff. 

 

However, despite this recommended fix, Valcheff thinks that no matter what professors or students do, we will never reach the amount of personalization and interaction online as we did in-person. For this reason, she’s looking forward to returning to school as soon as possible.

 

All in all, we’ve got some mixed feelings about the new online environment. While it certainly can be comfortable, flexible and convenient, it also is impersonal and lacking in the experiences that truly make the university experience what it is supposed to be.