Virtual Learning during COVID-19

By Marieli Rubio

As appealing as working and studying from home seemed, it has posed various obstacles for college students. Adapting to virtual learning has taught young adults to be flexible, and above all, deal with ambiguity. As uncertainty continues to prevail with internships, an on-campus fall quarter, study abroad, and so much more, students are faced with elevated levels of stress and frustration.

young couple wearing medical masks with laptop and smartphone on city street
Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

The global pandemic has made it difficult to focus and seek out opportunities that were once there. We are fortunate that technological advances have allowed us to continue with the pursuit of knowledge, yet we realize it is difficult to replace face-to-face learning and communication. Here are a couple pros and cons I have observed and experienced as a rising college senior studying engineering. 

CON – Loss of sense of independence 

College is viewed as a place where students are responsible for self-regulating their time, health, and money. It is a time of exploration, adventure, and learning about one’s passions and goals. Moving back home, after developing a routine on one’s college campus, is challenging.

We became accustomed to eating with our friends at the dining hall, staying up studying at the library, and going to our weekly club meetings. While those activities have transitioned online as well, we now have to align our schedules with family dinner time and responsibilities at home. Our parents and siblings are constantly asking us if we have finished assignments and at times invading our personal space. 

four person standing at top of grassy mountain
Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

PRO – Family time and Home-cooked meals

You have to admit nothing beats a home cooked meal after eating lots of hamburgers, pizzas, and the not so nutritious food offered at dining halls. We no longer have to swipe our cards to eat, but are instead provided with the food available at home. You are also now required to participate in family movie nights, board games, and best of all, household chores. 

people around a table with food
Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

CON – Screen time and Focusing Challenges 

Most college students are described as sitting in front of a computer screen at a coffee shop, at the library, or under a tree. While college students access their textbooks online and complete the majority of their schoolwork on an electronic device, lectures on-campus were a time of the day where students were able to engage in class discussions or manually take notes from the chalkboard in the front of the room.

Now that lectures are all online, screen time has significantly increased and students have found that their majority of their day is spent sitting and staring at the computer screens. This has unfortunately led to a more mundane schedule, where students robotically complete assignments online and are left with strained eyesight at the end of the day. 

man working using a laptop
Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com

PRO – Learning at one’s own pace and independent learning 

As an engineering student, I have been accustomed to solving challenging problems in small groups and constantly swinging by my professor’s office to ask pending questions. With virtual learning, this is not the same dynamic. It is now required for students to email and constantly communicate with professors, whether it is providing feedback about how the material is being presented, the amount of workload given, and overall expectations.

Pre-recorded lectures allow students to watch the videos at any time of the day, helping students to complete their schoolwork at their peak energy, and are held more accountable for submitting assignments on time. We no longer can depend on our classmates to re-teach us a lesson, but rather have to figure out our most effective note-taking and studying strategies. 

gray double bell clock
Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

Many students across the globe have very different circumstances, and the transition to online learning varies across educational levels. My experience as a college student during this time does not apply to everyone, but only offers a glimpse of the benefits and difficulties I have experienced thus far. 

This transition to virtual learning has truly been a learning curve for both professors and students. The biggest takeaway is to be patient and appreciative of the opportunity to still pursue one’s degree and being able to communicate with classmates. As we know, this too shall pass. Our college experience may be cut short, but we are becoming more resilient and adaptable to the coming changes.

high angle photo of boy using imac
Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

For more of Marieli’s work, head to her blog here

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