Learning in a pandemic can be tough for students already, but what about the students who are dealing with an extra obstacle handling their virtual classes?
As an online learner this semester, I have personally faced some of these issues.
For most of my classes that are a hybrid of online and in-person students, most of the time you are just looking at the board and teacher making it hard to hear students. Plus, even if the internet connection is good on both ends there are still buffers and stutters in the video and audio that could cause students to miss some information.
The first problem many classes will face in a mixed class of online and in person attendees would be the view since the online and teacher host can only see where the instructor’s computer is placed.
Another problem with communication between students is that those online can usually only interact with other online students. In-class students can’t talk or sometimes even see the online students unless the in-person students join the Zoom call while they are in class.
For some professors they might not have the best understanding of how to run a virtual class or have a good set up ready for them to teach in. This could hinder their ability to fully concentrate and be present for class to learn.
Affordability of the right equipment will lead to more problems for students if they can’t get a good computer.
With the right laptop or computer, a student would need a webcam, good speakers for talking and listening to the professor. Not having these things can be a large setback to those students who don’t already have or can not afford one.
“The first couple of weeks of my first semester online I didn’t have a working camera for my laptop so I used my phone and it was hard to get adjusted to working on my phone,” sophomore Joshua Leer said.
The biggest gap that there is for the online students is the in-person tasks that cannot be done by those online due to either lack of the materials or just not having an opportunity to participate. If a student takes a pottery class and it’s their first time, they may not have a room or clay to make anything the class is instructing.
Another example being in broadcasting classes and having to film stories for projects. The students in class have the better equipment with the cameras, tripods, teleprompters, materials that are not available for most students from home.
Some possible solutions for online students to get a more well-rounded online education might be to try and go to a computer lab or use a library computer. While it may not be the best place to be talking in, it could be used for the computers and classes you don’t have to talk much in, or asking to use a friends or parent’s laptop if you are in need of one for a class. Another solution could be to buy the materials they are using in class if you can afford them, while following along with the lessons at home. That way you are still a part of what is going on in class but you are just doing it from home.
“I had been working at a public library computer until I recently got a laptop for myself. It was awkward at first but I had to push through it to take my classes,” junior Shelby Barns said.
So, while online learning is a great way to combat meeting face to face without the risk of getting sick it also has its drawbacks. I think it can be used now and, in the future, and be beneficial for students to learn on. It just comes with some problems and experiences online students will have to miss out on if they chose to learn virtually.