What will you miss about remote learning?

While it hasn’t been all good, these four students reflect on their favourite parts of taking classes online

ILLUSTRATION: Kitty Cheung / The Peak

building my schedule

By Maya Beninteso

While there are some aspects of remote learning I don’t like, there are a few perks I will miss. For one, I appreciate the flexibility of online classes and learning from the comfort of my home. It enables me to spend more time studying or doing something productive — like binge-watching Criminal Minds instead of using said time for commuting. I rarely feel pressed for time or rushed between Zoom lectures. 

Even though being home sometimes feels isolating, there is truly nothing like it. Studying in your room, dressed in flannel pajamas, while the rhythmic rain hits your windows is the epitome of comfort. This level of bliss is impossible to replicate while studying on campus. 

However, the best perk of remote learning has been the ability to improve my mental health. Before remote learning, I was always “on the go” and never had the opportunity to address some of my mental health concerns to their fullest extent. Since all of my extracurriculars and volunteering positions shut down, I had all this time on my hands. Once remote learning began, I decided to use the extra time I had to seek out resources and (online) counselling. v

Though there have been some positive aspects to online learning, I cannot say I am loathing the return to campus. Remote learning has been tolerable, but I’m looking forward to in-person classes again.

 

the doodle squad

By Kelly Chia

I’ll miss Blackboard Collaborate doodles! 

Pre-lecture, my professors would open up the room and we would go wild. It was kind of hard to bond with strangers, but when you’re drawing together, you form a connection. Doodling with this many people isn’t something you can do in real life; a class of 100 students would not be able to crowd around a whiteboard. Being able to see what everyone was doing and interacting in real-time made it special.

It felt much less awkward than any of the icebreaker games we’d play in tutorials because our doodles felt like a natural conversation. Classmates would adore my drawing of the “Surprised Pikachu” meme, and then in response, someone else would draw another Pokémon they knew. I learned that my classmates liked Animal Crossing, and we’d doodle our island codes so we could visit each other. Sometimes my professor would even open up the board so we could doodle during the lesson, and we’d draw small reactions. These doodles made the class experience memorable and interactive, and I’ll miss them a lot.

 

pause, rewind, and play

By Jacob Mattie

To be clear, online learning has been pretty rough. Staying motivated to study during a terrifyingly monotonous semester (or three) was, and remains, a massive challenge. But not unlike how allergy season brings with it some pretty cool flowers, online learning has been able to resolve some issues presented by in-person classes — namely, by giving us the ability to pause and rewind lectures. 

Being able to control the pace at which a professor covers the material is something I’ve found to be instrumental in taking ownership of my learning. Rather than having to choose between listening to the lecture and taking accurate notes, the structure of asynchronous classes has allowed for the possibility of both

Being able to rewind and revisit certain sections of a recording has been incredibly useful in cementing the more difficult topics and more forgiving of the unavoidable lapses in concentration. 

In all, the freedom to absorb the material at my own pace has made education feel a little less like being pushed through a curriculum, and a little more like being guided.

 

chatter box

By Nathan Tok

While everything hasn’t been perfect with online learning, one huge benefit is the chat. Whether in Zoom or Blackboard Collaborate or some other communication software, participation is easier with a dialogue shared with the whole class. When in lectures, especially big ones, the conversation can get dominated by the instructor or just a few people. 

The chat function can be incredibly useful for shy people who might have great ideas but don’t want to put themselves out there in front of so many people. The chat function allows us to capture at least some of those previously missed ideas when before, they were almost completely overlooked. 

The chat is unfortunately one feature we can’t bring back to the classroom. The closest thing we have in SFU is iClickers and other participatory apps like Tophat. But I haven’t seen an SFU class where people can communicate with each other and share cool stories or initiatives going around Vancouver and the world. I can’t tell you how many cool things I found just by someone sharing in the chat, whether it’s just the name of a band or a cool program. So let’s enjoy it while it lasts, and send those :)s in the chat.