When I first leaned that the lectures and seminars were moved online, I found myself thinking it is rather a relief. I mean, how much easier is it to attend an online class, especially if you are working at the same time? Now that a little short of a year has passed since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, however, online-fatigue is in the air. Many of us also work remotely, arrange meetings remotely and chat with friends remotely. Is it too much to ask just to attend in person one thing a week? As we try to be positive and assure ourselves that the day when we’ll once more open the rusty doors of the seminar room will come, we might as well try to enjoy the remote classes as long as they last.
And that is why, in celebration of the new semester, I decided to put together a list of the surprising benefits of the online classes/lectures/seminars that we later might learn to miss.
It’s of course normal to doodle during a live lecture too, but as a master’s student you have a lot of seminars with only a handful students attending. As the instructor and the presenter are able to see everyone in the room, it seems rude to busy oneself with something that has absolutely nothing to do with anything. During a Zoom seminar, however, you can basically draw/write/read whatever you want (or finish a crossword), and it only looks like you’re taking notes even if the camera is on. Pro tip: Try to doodle a portrait of the lecturer using their video. It looks like you are paying rigorous attention to what the teacher is saying and writing all of it down.
Then, of course, there are those classes that don’t require you to even use the camera, so you’re free to pick your nose or whatever it is you always wanted to do during a class.
Eating in the Classroom
There were times when I was so busy and hungry, I had to take my lunch with me to the auditorium/classroom. Yet I was reluctant to eat my loaf because the crinkly papers would make so much noise in the otherwise quiet room. Well, now it’s made super easy to eat during the class, as your mic would be turned off on default and you can even stop the camera while you take a bite. It also helps that the refrigerator doesn’t have to be far away. You’ll never go hungry during a seminar again. Yay!
No Group Assignments?
This one might be a bit controversial. Yet, at least to my experience, the group assignments are now mostly in the form of short discussions during the class, and this seems to work rather well. As the previous five years have shown us, different group papers and presentations have become the norm among the course requirements, and as much as we have learned to miss them now, I am sure the next time you try to arrange a meeting with a group of six reluctant classmates and end up meeting at 7 am on Saturday in the downstairs toilet of the library (because someone flew to Bali for two days and another had to babysit their neighbor’s chinchilla and surprise – there are no more free group study rooms in the whole campus), you’ll look fondly back to the days when you managed to pass a course on your own.
Slept Late and still Made It to the Class
It’s crazy how much time is spared when you don’t have to transfer anywhere. And that time is, of course, used to make the world a better place by sleeping. Many people have one or two meters from their beds to their working stations, and even if you sit up and take notice of the time five minutes before the class starts, you’ll still make it. Those who work remotely are familiar with the idea of wearing the neatest shirt and tip-top make-up & hair paired with the baggiest old pajama pants and woolen socks. The same goes here. If you are in a real hurry, you don’t even have to brush your teeth or wash yourself. Not that I’ve ever skipped those, just an idea. Sometimes it’s also relieving not to be so dependent on the bus schedules.
(As the thumbnail suggests, it might also be fun to move your working station to the balcony or backyard, but as the Finnish weather constantly reminds us, this is more of an idea than an experience.)
Even if it may be easy to do, I will not advise you to mute the classes or otherwise skip them entirely – the staff is doing their best to provide you with a decent study experience even during these tough times. And – needless to say – you won’t learn anything if you do. Here’s hoping for more informative and insightful remote classes!