Adventures in Online Learning: A Student's Perspective
As a college student who thrives in classroom settings, group discussions, and hands-on learning, finishing out the last three months of my sophomore year remotely was not ideal. When my college announced that classes would be online for the rest of the semester, I knew this was going to be like nothing I had ever experienced before.
Now, after turning in all my assignments, completing my final exams, and receiving my final grades for the semester, I’m reflecting on my time spent learning online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Highs, Lows & Plateaus
Initially, amid the chaos of having to completely move out of my home on campus, saying good-bye to all my friends and professors, and getting one last bagel at Einstein's, there was something about the situation that felt surreal, but exciting. Oddly enough, it almost felt like a much-needed change of pace.
The first few weeks were not half bad. Many of my large assignments were condensed and pushed back, while others were eliminated. I enjoyed being able to watch my lectures outside, not having to walk across campus to my 8 am, and of course the home-cooked meals as opposed to the food at the café. Even Zoom classes were kind of fun. I found it interesting how each professor took a different approach to this online transition. Some classes were set up as though we were there in the lecture hall, just via Zoom. Others were simply pre-recorded lectures and assignments to follow, requiring a lot of self-teaching. With this less-structured class set-up, it was nice to focus more of my time on my rigorous classes.
But as the excitement wore off, I began to miss my walks to class, meeting with study groups in person, and even chicken nugget Mondays at the café. I noticed that I wasn't as emotionally connected to my school work. Not seeing classmates, friends, and professors daily, school started to feel more like a chore or just something to do to fill the time. Frustration began to build as questions that could be answered in seconds in the classroom took 3-5 business days to be answered via email. This frustration and emotional disconnect made it very hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“We Did It!”
When the end of the semester was approaching, it seemed both like so much time, yet no time at all, had passed since the beginning of this journey. It was a struggle to prep for finals without my favorite study spots, coffee shops, or even just the nervous energy felt throughout campus. But through the struggles, there were little bits of encouragement along the way, like appreciatory emails from professors exclaiming that, "WE DID IT!” or goodbye Zoom calls with classmates and advisors. And with the help of these encouragements and a lot of caffeine, I took my last exam and said goodbye to my strangest semester yet.
Looking back, this was a semester filled with trials and tribulations, but also a lot of growth. I learned to appreciate aspects of college I had taken for granted in the past. I can now proudly say I am a survivor of Zoom University.