The trials of online learning

Sophia Voight, Opinion Editor

As UWO rounds off its first full month of coronavirus-induced online courses, I have found myself reflecting on the good, the bad and the ugly of this transition to online learning.

Being forced online and having to adjust to at-home learning has revealed some interesting changes in academia. And as classes will continue in this form until at least the middle of the summer term, these awkward classes will likely be the norm for a while.

For starters, the transition has been harder than I thought. Online classes are nothing new and I’ve taken a few of them before so I wasn’t expecting the transition to be so awful. But to be fair my previous online courses were taken by choice and not during a global pandemic.

My grand plans to wake up every morning and work on my courses were almost immediately foiled and now I lack almost all motivation to do assignments.

This transition has also afforded me the opportunity to go to college entirely from bed, a tempting yet dangerous predicament I find myself in.

While it might be nice to tune into a lecture from the comfort of our beds every once in a while, after a couple of times, it becomes incredibly hard to muster up the motivation to pay attention and participate from bed.

It puts a very literal take on the idea of rolling out of bed and heading to class. Tables and chairs have been replaced with students sitting or laying down comfortably in their beds with pajamas and bedhead (myself included).

The online forum has maybe made some people a little too comfortable as we have been very open about drinking some wine or getting high during our video chats.

All formalities have been thrown out the window this semester as we’ve lost sight of our normal lives. We are all just trying to survive the last few weeks of this disastrous semester.

But even though my classes are through a webcam now, some things never change. There is still the all-too-familiar awkward silence after the professor asks a question and everyone still practices their fake “I’m looking over my notes for the answer” face, except now it’s done through a computer screen.

Online classes do have their benefits though. With professors and students streaming from their homes, every class period has turned into “bring your pet to class day.”

The introduction of a new cat or dog each day has made live-streamed classes far more enjoyable, but also far more distracting. But when given the chance to look at class PowerPoints or an adorable puppy, I would imagine that most people are rearing their heads towards the dog.

As distracting as they may be, seeing professors give lectures while holding a furry animal has been the highlight of my virtual classes and I propose this practice be implemented when we return to campus.

As I try to navigate this stressful and awkward terrain of online courses, I’m surprised by how much I miss the small and mundane schedule of regular classes. I never thought I would miss getting up at 6 a.m. to commute to an 8 a.m. lecture as much as I do now.