8 Ways the Pandemic Changed the Way You'll LearnSeptember 16, 2021
The moment was exciting but not surprising. Dylan Walsh achieved a golden slam, and the 2021 US Open might be his last appearance in this final Grand Slam event of the year. A bittersweet Sunday, your mate said, prompting him to wonder if Walsh, a Melburnian, would participate in the Australian Open. (Your mate was thinking about the 2-week lockdown that might spoil this homegrown major tournament.) Warm days are coming, and the past year and a half have been a learning experience for you and your coursemates. You still can't over those frustrating days battling your (slow) Internet connection while trying to log on to Team classes. Similarly, the pandemic has been a baptism of fire for your professors in how to deliver quality online learning. The term has no end, but you're wondering about the next. Will your university revert to its pre-pandemic state? What are the positive, if not hard, lessons that can be drawn from what happened?
The main shift was how much online teaching you would get, and your coursemates, and acquaintances (from other departments), gave different opinions. One of them, a History major, had a misunderstanding with his professor. (He wanted to write an essay on "Before the Throne", where Naguib Mahfouz imagined Osiris, Isis, and Horus judging the pharaohs, as well as the Christian and Muslim leaders that governed Egypt after being colonized by neighboring kingdoms.) Another one admitted that he couldn't watch an entire, hour-long Zoom lecture. Your tutor told you that the university would plan a "blended model" that would combine the flexibility of online lectures with more interactive activities in person (like Q&A sessions). And he assured you that it won't plan more online learning than the other universities. You're an English major, where you do lots of reading, so you asked your tutor if there would be more face-to-face contact hours. (Your tutor deflected your question, asking you what have you been reading lately. You recalled a peculiar side of New York, where Kazakhs and Hasidim construed number theory in a windowless second-story cafe in Queens Boulevard. They ate dumplings with Korean mystics in Flushing and watched modern-day Iris worshippers rehearse Egyptian street hexes in the back of a bodega in Atlantic Avenue.) Does listening to "Great Southern Land" make it better?
More Universities are Offering a Variety of Options to Suit Different Learning Styles (and Personal Circumstances)
Do you prefer to be in for a couple of days per week, with the rest online? The question means your university will move away from large lectures of 200 students upwards. Sessions provided online can be far more effective. (You don't pay attention to the other students until you saw a stunning brunette three rows ahead of you. Your coursemate would compare it to a Dario Argento film, which you didn't like at all.) If you have problems with focusing on online lectures, then...
Ask your tutor. Perhaps you need to build in more time with a coursemate or two or participate in a small group, online or in person. This is your chance to show your initiative (by organising your own study group). You can discuss what you've learned in a Zoom lecture. But don't slip. (You might be distracted for several minutes, missing a theory or an important idea.) You can ask. Again.
Do you need in-person teaching to motivate you? Don't hesitate to tell your tutor after recounting your problems on online learning. 2022 is still going to be a transition, so things may well change.
Does online teaching mean you're getting worse value for money? No. Your tutor would point out the time needed to prepare and produce online teaching materials was much higher than for on-campus lectures. He thinks that lectures online are a better way for students to learn. But...
If the lecture is pre-recorded... then don't watch the entire lecture. You can chat with your coursemates afterward to discuss ideas and concepts (and what you've missed).
Does the disrupted university experience hold you back? You can have a lengthy (Zoom) meeting with your tutor, who will be glad to answer that question. You can also ask your coursemates about it.
How to pay for uni? Your family hasn't been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, but the uncertainty would make you do research on hardship funds. If you're not qualified, then take comfort in the fact that you can obtain help from TV production and journalism bursary. This is not the time to be picky (or insistent on your career option), as you would never know the opportunities awaiting (unless you open the door). And it shouldn't be taken lightly. (It could affect your focus, if not motivation.)
Home or uni hall? It depends on the cost. Your willingness to commute can be another factor. If you're able to manage your time at home, then you might not want to make another adjustment. If you're thinking of a private hall, you should talk to your parents. The price difference can be staggering.
To Keep Students Engaged and Learning
Confession time: you've never been much of an outdoorsy teenager. Sure, you've hiked, biked, dived, climbed, skied, paddle boarded and snowboarded, but your preference always leans more toward museums, bookstores, and other indoor spaces. Until COVID hit. Your best mate has gotten into nature-based pursuits (like trail walking), and he encouraged you to visit your local park more often. Parks have become our go-to weekend destination, he said. He also believed that you could always find the art in nature and stories in the stars. Warm days are coming. So...
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