Ever since classes went online, my ability to learn in classrooms has changed. Sitting in one spot, listening to the professor talk for 1 to 3 hours with no engagement takes a lot out of a person. What’s the point if they are just going to be lecturing at us on topics that do not apply to any discussions, papers, or exams? This is not always the case, but a lot of times, my in person classes feel as if there is a lot of filler information. Why should I be forced to sit through a lecture when I can take that same time to do my own research on the class topics and teach myself the material? I want to be engaged in material and with the class and its topics, but if the professor is not able to provide that environment, I feel as if I am at a disadvantage. I know there are some dissenting opinions on this, but how has COVID affected the way I and others learn?
In high school, my senior year, I was ready to leave. I had already been accepted into RIT and knew that is where I would spend my next 4 years. I no longer wanted to be in a high school classroom as I felt there wasn’t much stimulation and too much generalization for my liking. I was ready to be in the college lecture hall, taking notes and learning from professors with different areas of knowledge, backgrounds, and research findings; which was something I did not have while in high school. Then COVID hit, and as many of us already know things changed drastically.
Due to concerns of receiving and transferring COVID, during my entire first year of college, most of my classes were online or hybrid. This consisted of a lot of time on my computer and in non-traditional classroom spaces (my bed, the dining hall, the lounge, etc). What most did not understand about this though is how much I enjoyed the flexibility of these classes. I could go through lectures or powerpoints at any hour, and I did not have to sit in one place for a long period of time. If I needed to meet with the professor, there were less time conflicts due to my online mode for classes. Personally, I cannot stay in one place for long periods of time and having that freedom to move and change topics while working, made my life calmer and more productive. But as COVID became less of a concern, more classes began to return to in person format.
The professors haven’t done anything wrong
After 2 years of dealing with COVID and understanding what works and doesn’t, there still isn’t a perfect system. Some professors are turning the dial back to Pre-COVID era, which in some cases, just doesn’t work. Others are easing things slowly back into this new era and doing a combination of assignments and discussions that break up attention. This is beneficial for many students like myself who can’t hold the same attention span anymore and need things broken up to gather all the necessary information. I want to be able to have conversations about the class topics while also taking notes and then maybe watch a documentary or work in groups related to the class topic. Having different elements going on during the class really helps create the learning environment into one that is more interdisciplinary. We are all learning still and want things to be normal for all of us again. But what is normal for us? We have come to like new ways to learn that did not previously exist. We also found dissatisfaction for things that we thought were the only way.
How do we progress forward?
Professors and students need to continue to understand that things are always changing. What worked today might not work tomorrow. There needs to be flexibility in the learning process and the environment. To be more inclusive to changing needs, the environment of learning needs to reflect that. If we want more people to succeed in higher-ed, there needs to be acceptance that everyone can’t learn the same way as each other, the old way before COVID, or the completely virtual way on the computer. This will take time but with patience and effort, great things will come forth.