By Kiana Pincock, Marketing Intern
Remote learning has certainly been a tremendous change for both teachers and students. Teachers, I feel for you. Many teachers were given 1-2 weeks to move all of their classes online (which is no easy feat). Students have also been impacted by these changes. However, while challenging in some respects, the move to remote learning does seem to have some benefits.
I wanted to provide a little insight into how remote learning is affecting students, highlighting surprises, challenges, and benefits of remote learning among a small group of students. Maybe this insight can be used to improve your courses or maybe it will help you to gain some common ground with your students. Either way, I hope that this information is useful.
I am sharing the opinions of four students, inluding myself. Michelle is a sophomore at Oregon State University, majoring in Animal Sciences. Tyler is a Finance major at Portland State University and this is his senior year. Finally, Vy is a sophomore at Oregon State University and Linn Benton Community College, working towards a Marketing-Psychology double major.
Has anything surprised you so far about remote learning?
Me: It’s more challenging than I assumed. There is a lot of content for each class in many different places. There is no standard format for how teachers design or organize their remote courses. When you’re enrolled in multiple classes, it is confusing and at times difficult to remember how each class is formatted or where/what content can be found.
Michelle: I thought it’d be nearly identical to taking online classes and that Zoom meetings would only consist of listening to the teacher lecture, but it has been a lot more interactive than I expected. Teachers will often ask questions in class that students can answer via chat or verbally, and teachers often put us in breakout rooms in Zoom for group discussions.
Tyler: I have come across several challenges that I wasn’t expecting, such as large class sizes affecting Zoom functionality and a lack of back-and-forth conversations.
Vy: I’m surprised at how understanding and helpful teachers have been about remote learning. They seem to recognize that we are all facing these challenges together and are really stepping up to help out students however they can.
Do you feel that your ability to pay attention is the same as with face-to-face classes?
Me: My attention (so far) has actually improved, though it’s still a struggle for me personally. For one, during Zoom classes the teacher is right there in front of my face. In addition, one of my teachers has been using the “poll” function in Zoom, which I’ve found helps me to stay engaged in class.
Tyler: I have noticed in my classes that participation seems to be down. When the teacher asks a question, there seem to be more frequent and long pauses. I’ve also been in a couple of situations where we are in break out rooms discussing a prompt, and one student doesn’t say a word the entire time.
Vy: I think that my attention is better because I’m not forced to sit. I’ve found that after sitting a certain amount of time I begin to get distracted. With remote classes I can move around and stretch, both of which seem to improve my attention once that 30-minute mark hits.
What are some challenges of remote learning for you, if any?
Me: Keeping track of where everything is for each class is confusing because there are so many links and each instructor organizes their class differently. It’d be nice if there was a standard format that every teacher would use to organize their class content so that students could navigate more easily.
Michelle: I struggle with reading comprehension, so that has been challenging because I now need to read a lot of content online.
Tyler: In my classes, group discussion and dialogue seem to suffer. It’s more difficult to collaborate with other students in an online environment.
Vy: I’m enrolled at two colleges where I use different online learning management systems. Half of my courses are on Canvas, while the other half are on Moodle. As a result, it’s very difficult to keep track of all assignments and courses when they’re across so many different pages and websites all formatted differently.
Have you experienced any benefits?
Me: I can think of a few! One is that by not having to commute I save a lot of time. Another benefit is that, as an introvert, I’ve found it easier to speak up and ask questions in class because having a lot of people physically around seems to be more “intimidating” for me.
Michelle: It usually takes me one hour to get ready for school and then walk to campus. Due to classes being remote, I have more time to sleep and do other things.
Tyler: I believe that being forced to move to remote learning and adapt so quickly will help me in the future. A lot of jobs use Zoom and other communication platforms, so I think that learning more about the features of common platforms will help me.
Vy: Not commuting to school has given me time that I didn’t have before. I have been using this extra time to improve my health through exercise and by preparing better meals. I believe that improving my health will transfer over to my school-work and improve that as well.
One of the things that stood out to me as a common benefit for us all was an increase in the amount of free or personal time we each have due to moving to remote learning. On the other end, the most common disadvantage is navigating different classes due to a lack of consistent organization.
Something I find interesting in all this is that today’s teachers are on the frontier of something completely new. It hasn’t been experienced before; there is a lot of learning and innovation to come! In my experiences so far, I’ve really appreciated my teachers using different strategies and tools to keep class engaging and interactive. I hope more teachers get creative and try using a variety of tools in order to facilitate learning and engagement. I can guarantee your students will notice and appreciate your efforts.
About the Author:
Kiana is originally from Portland, Oregon, and currently a senior at Portland State University studying Marketing. She recently started her first internship as a Marketing Intern at Lumen Learning. She enjoys fitness and learning new things through reading and listening to podcasts. Her passions include health, natural skincare, and human and animal rights.