Could online classes be the future of education?

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Discussions are taking place about what the new normal will look like post COVID-19, with many wondering about the future of work and education.

Some are in favour of an at-home learning environment for the future as it means no more commuting to campus — especially during the cold winters — as well as saving money on paid parking, buses, subways, and time in general.

While many feared this transition during the pandemic’s first wave, working and studying from home has been proven to be feasible.

“It took me a little while to get used to working from home since I did not have my desk and ergonomic chair,” says Nadia Forzley, a financial assistant for the Office of the Dean at York’s School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design.

As for Forzley’s transition, she says, “I find I am more energetic as I do not have to rush in the morning to get ready to commute to work.” She also states that she has finally settled into a work atmosphere and finds herself working more productively. 

York, like many other universities, have moved all operations to Zoom, which is a site that allows for screen sharing, video meetings, and other functions. 

Many teachers have also opted for eClass discussions. The facial anonymity that it offers encourages students who wouldn’t regularly participate in person to contribute more, as it allows for students to respond through posts and comments. 

Online learning from home offers some students a safe, quiet space to learn and participate. However, not all students have the privilege of a peaceful home to study in. Studying and attending classes on campus works better for them. 

For others experiencing domestic abuse and/or violence, going to their school/workplace means being able to escape that environment for several hours a day. 

There are hotlines that provide support for those in crises, however, services dealing with abuse victims state that domestic abuse rates have increased since the start of COVID-19 lockdowns.

Education has become increasingly difficult for international students who want to attend Canadian universities as well. In October 2020, international students became exempt from the travel ban.

Despite this, international students in Ontario have been set back, as many Ontario universities have now increased their tuition fees.

As for others, they find online learning challenging. For students experiencing learning disabilities, school from home can present many more obstacles. 

Some students find they focus better through in-person learning as classes are quieter and campuses provide several quiet spaces to study. 

Fourth-year business administration student Emelia Dandan, co-president of the Rotaract Club and soon-to-be graduate from the Schulich School of Business, says: “In person I found it easier to participate. With so many people raising their hands on Zoom, professors don’t know who raised their hand first and tend to miss people.”

Dandan claims she has been able to work more thoroughly on assignments and get better grades. Most recorded COVID-19 cases and deaths in Canada come out of Ontario and Quebec but Canada’s overall recovery rate is 84 per cent. With these statistics, it is unclear what the future of work and education in Canada will look like.

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By Rachel Forzley Saad

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