If I could describe 2020 in a word, it would be “unprecedented”. Learning has never been easy for some even before the pandemic. It has been approximately two months since classes were shifted virtually due to COVID-19. I wonder how students cope with online classes as not everyone has full access to the internet. As a second-year Finance student, I doubted this e-learning would make sense not because I’m making excuses. But rather, my concern is will everyone get to learn equally like how we used to in the classroom?
Ever since our government had imposed the Movement Control Order (MCO), schools and universities were asked to close indefinitely. And that’s when virtual classes become the new normal for students. We might not have any difficulty with online classes but how about those who can’t afford access to the Internet? It makes me wonder if virtual classes are the solution for students not to lag behind in studies? In spite of this, I am thankful that I am safely home with my family, although learning from home can be pretty challenging for me.
Which Learning Method Is Better?
If I had to choose, I’d vote for the university to extend the semester. That would be the best for everyone, I thought. But I was being selfish, wasn’t I? It would be unfair for others especially final year students. Would it be worth the wait for another six months to graduate? I don’t think so. I believe none of us aren’t affected by the pandemic. But life goes on although things are no longer the same.
The idea of online classes might be exciting for some but not for an average student like me, who needs face-to-face interaction when learning. This is because I learn better when people are talking to me rather than reading material on my own. Even though online classes are more flexible, they are only effective for people who have good self-discipline and motivation. Admit it, we wake up five minutes before our morning online classes begin because no one will know if we have showered or not. Does this show how intemperate we are?
Online Classes During Unprecedented Times
Although I was sceptical, yet giving up was never an option. I remember how discouraged I was during my first online class, it was all in shambles and I was unprepared. True, we can’t expect everything to be smooth sailing the first time but we can make it endurable, at least. I believe online classes will work if both parties; students and lecturers help each other to make things easier.
I genuinely think lecturers should be lenient during these trying times because learning from home might be troublesome for certain students. However, this is not the reason for students to take assignments lightly. The least that a teacher can do is to be considerate towards the students. We, students, are trying to adapt, but teachers can’t assume everyone to be learning at the same pace.
Regardless, I am thankful for lecturers who are thoughtful enough during this pandemic. These are not normal times where studies are our main priorities as we have lesser commitments. Lecturers should not have increased the workload just because students are at home. The reality is we are learning from home while coping with other responsibilities too. There are students whose siblings are relying on them to prepare daily meals. There are others who are working part-time because their parents are now jobless. Just because we have it easy doesn’t mean everyone else does. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat.
The Importance Of Mental Health In This Pandemic
I can’t emphasise enough how important it is for everyone to be physically and mentally fit during this uncertain period. I am not even sure if this new reality is a boon or bane for us, students. On the bright side, we are able to stay at home longer than our initial semester break. However, the bane is these online classes have been giving us anxiety and panic attacks, particularly when it comes to online tests. I also find online classes more stressful than regular classes, as I fluster easily nowadays.
What scares me the most about online classes is the compatibility of the Internet for everyone. According to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), internet speed has slowed down due to the high usage of the Internet during MCO. Would this e-learning turn out well? There are days when I am feeling down during online classes especially when the Internet slows down. Even though it doesn’t happen regularly, but I do get annoyed each time it does. This is the challenge that we have to deal with where the Internet is now essential to students.
Less Social Interaction During Online Classes
Ever since the online classes began, I have been longing for social interaction with my classmates and lecturers. I realised how I have taken them for granted because they were always around. Social interaction plays a major role in the classroom because that’s how we develop our communication skills. Now that we only talk through electronic devices, I wonder if my social skills are still top-notch.
According to experts, practising social distancing for an extended period of time comes with a high psychological cost. People who went through social distancing during outbreaks such as SARS, H1N1, and Ebola have reported short term and long term mental illness. Research suggests that quarantined people face a greater risk of insomnia, depression, and anxiety. The longer a quarantine lasts, the worse its impact on psychological well-being. This is because human beings are social creatures hence we value our relationships with others.
Everyone Is Adapting To A New Lifestyle
Despite modern technology such as Skype, FaceTime, and WhatsApp that keep us connected, yet it is not the same with face-to-face interactions. Whenever we interact with people, not only that we get to talk to them, but we also express ourselves through gestures, facial expressions and tone of our voice. The power of humans’ facial expressions is that we are able to convey countless emotions without saying a single word. Even though social media may not be as good as interacting in real life but they are better than having no interaction at all.
Due to MCO, our lifestyles have been affected and abruptly switching over to a new lifestyle is not easy. Mind you, the new normal would never be the same as it was back then. No one promised that it’s going to be better, but the least we can do is to stay positive. Perhaps we are in denial that we actually knew education would be different now. The future may seem uncertain, especially for those who are graduating this year. However, I genuinely pray for health, safety, and strength for everyone during these trying times. And this too shall pass.
If you are in distress and you need someone to hear you out, head over to this article.
This article is part of Espoletta’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives.