Finding a bright side (an anomaly) in online learning


Though 2020 has had the world go through some harsh extremes due to the COVID-19 crisis, some comparatively smaller shifts in what is now the new normal have brought their own challenges, specifically moving from in-person to online for virtually everything. 

Considering how many schools and workplaces went online, it should be safe to say this was an environment many were forced to adapt to pretty quickly and unexpectedly.  

Personally, the shift online was, and is, something I had the luxury to easily adapt to. It has been kinder to me, as well, in regards to the flexibility added for me to stack on other responsibilities aside from schoolwork. I’ve found the online experience to be much more desirable for my own style of learning, and look forward to how it can be implemented in some ways following the pandemic. 

Prior to switching to online, I had an 8:00 am class with a half hour commute. The commute was incredibly strenuous for my family as we learned to adjust. I did not have car insurance, so my father made the sacrifice of having to do the commute four times daily to drop me off to class and pick me up at work after completing an exhausting night shift himself. 

Given that other options such as public transportation were also not feasible for us, the one factor that stressed me more than school itself was the commute. I could only dream about having the ability to have access to classes from the comfort of my home. 

An in-person schedule within an environment I was still getting used to (given that I was a freshman) obviously posed its own challenges, as it’s unfamiliarity was something I still had to crack. Like many others, flexibility was difficult for me to find within the constant back and forth demanded by multiple obligations.

My sleep schedule was all over the place due to assignments I would have to attend to after tiresome days at work (preceded by classes), so flexibility or even the ability to do work at my full potential was something I was struggling to arrange.

When the news arrived that we would be going online, again, I have the luxury to say that I was thrilled. I felt like I would finally be getting some time and sanity on my hands that had otherwise been misplaced by mindlessly long commutes, and it would relieve some of the tension the time strains of commuting placed on family responsibilities. 

The couple of complaints I have is largely how in-person classes wound up becoming practically asynchronous – it made me question the importance of my in-person experience, as well as the quality of education I was receiving. One example being how a nearly three-hour in-person class of mine turned into one hour upon making the transition to online classes. Other complaints were how with some professors, communication became a whole other mountain to climb, with quite burdensome consequences personally awaiting me as the uphill battle.

But this semester – when classes were actually meant to be asynchronous from start to finish – not only was I able to find the content presented to me easier to learn, but I also had the luxury of having better, faster, and straightforward communication with professors. 

With the extra time on my hands, I was also able to earn an internship, land another job after losing my previous one to COVID-19, take up counseling (something I had never seen myself doing in the near future prior to the pandemic), and get involved in some more extracurriculars. 

The flexibility in my hands has allowed me to achieve far beyond what I thought I might be physically able to with the physical constraints presented by being in-person. The virus has made clear of many faults within the system that humanity still doesn’t want to admit, but regardless, such that humanity no longer has the luxury to remain blind to. 

With that being said, it’s important to look at how the utmost one-sidedly seeming events have the ability to showcase the anomaly of having another side to them. Some of the most disastrous events may provide, even if it is to the smallest extent, something we could still stand to be grateful for.