Virtual learning: consequences and concerns

Gabriela Krieger, Editor

These days, it seems as though every aspect of life has been transferred online; schooling, shopping, reading, communication, and entire careers now take place through the screen. While this effort has been exerted to minimize the spread of germs, the revolution of online living has proven to reap negative consequences. 

These consequences, unfortunately, have become manifest all throughout society, including schools such as Oakton Community College. 

This massive societal shift in learning and teaching strategies backed the world of academia into a difficult corner; despite never being trained to teach or learn remotely, professors and students were plunged into the unfamiliar territory that is virtual education. 

With cameras off and microphones muted, it is easy to stumble into the habit of checking your phone, surfing the web, or even sleeping during online classes; unfortunately, with repetition, this stumble turns into a free fall. 

The incentive to pay attention to the lecture and show respect to the professor is diminished by the security of the screen. 

Furthermore, virtual learning has made cheating on quizzes and exams easier– all the test security and honesty signatures in the world will not guarantee that all students will take the test with integrity. Therefore, in order to ensure that the dishonest students don’t have an advantage over the honest students, many teachers have opted to assign open-note exams instead. 

As may be expected, this has proven to be problematic. Student attention span seems to have decreased exponentially. 

Now that the amount of virtual classrooms seems to be dwindling, students have been placed back into a traditional classroom atmosphere where they are expected to sit through lectures, memorize the material, and display mastery of the subject without notes. After a year of  “slacking”, this is bound to be a culture-shock for anyone. 

Not only has the way students learn been affected, it seems as though students have lost their ability to ask for help. While the forced independence of online learning may prove beneficial in some regards, it is detrimental when it comes to addressing professors for help on class material. 

Ultimately, students will need to adjust to the world of in-person learning and advocate for the understanding of their professors. 

The fact of the matter is that students have, quite simply, lost the ability to study. This prompts the question: how badly has the pandemic damaged the way students learn? Can the world of academia ever recover, and if so, how long will this recovery period take?