Online, yet disconnected

(Courtesy of Bhabna Banerjee, Creative Director)

At some point in their life every child (and university student) has thought, “I wish I didn’t have to go to school tomorrow. Just one more day and it would be perfect, just tomorrow, that’s all!”

I can admit to having a thought or two like this throughout my education. However, realizing my final year at York will most likely be entirely online is a rather upsetting reality. With all of its faults, it has become a second home to me, and not attending classes feels wrong for several reasons. 

The most popular and outspoken reason has been the fact that universities would not lower tuition costs.  Online classes mean a large reduction in expenses for the university, and the quality of classes has most certainly decreased. Personally, I always feel like an online class is somehow not as educational or informative as an in-person lecture. Some people like to argue that it’s the same slides, the same lecture notes, and there’s no real difference. However, the online learning experience is not on par with on-campus learning. 

Online, professors seem more distant and harder to connect with on a personal level. The lack of physical presence removes familiarity and leads to a lowered feeling of responsibility from both the students and the professors. When you converse with peers and professors face-to-face, you form a bond—and no matter how small, it’s still impactful.

    Even the most disciplined students will surely have a difficult time focusing while at home with hundreds of things just waiting to spring up to get their attention.

For most students this means they are less likely to listen, or even less likely to receive some leniency from a professor. For others it’s much more crucial. Many students who strive for graduate school need referrals from professors, and this year will be more difficult than ever to get one. 

The other obvious reason is that everyone is new to this format, so we’re all going through a “trial by fire.” If a course transitions to online perfectly, it’s great! If it doesn’t? Oh well!  At least then the university has a 40-person sample size on how to fix it for next time. Obviously no one wants you to have a bad experience, but this is the first time nearly an entire semester is online—there are bound to be problems. 

Lastly, even the most disciplined students will surely have a difficult time focusing while at home with hundreds of things just waiting to spring up to get their attention. To be honest, I truly dislike learning online and only do it when absolutely necessary. But to be fair, it does have its upsides. 

Fortunately, you have so much more free time now from not having to commute to and from campus. You won’t have to wait for five hours between classes and avoid all those ever-increasing fare costs. 

You don’t even need to leave your bed to attend! (Though you probably should—get a desk!)

Yes, online classes will take time getting used to, and they will have a learning curve for students and professors. Certainly attending classes in person would be optimal, but that’s a luxury we can’t afford this time. 

As such, do your best to learn tricks and habits that will help you do well despite the uncertain circumstances. It may seem more difficult and annoying to deal with online classes, but remember that our small sacrifices help and protect others.

About the Author

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By Sergiy Slipchenko

Former Editor

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