Before 2020, most typical college students had never considered taking an online class. In fact, most students choose colleges not based on their virtual offerings, but their social atmosphere and campus setting. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, though, all of that has changed.
Although many students worried about what we would lose by completing coursework online, the effects are not nearly as terrible as we thought. Personally, I have actually found five clear benefits of virtual learning this semester.
1. The support from professors is better than ever.
Although most people assume that online communication would remove any support for students, I actually found the opposite to be true. I’ve personally witnessed many teachers show empathy, extend deadlines, and record their lectures for students to access anytime.
2. Time frames for tests and assignments feel more lenient.
Since almost everything took place online this semester, professors are setting more lenient time frames for exams and other assignments. In fact, some professors are allowing students a five-day window for exams. This not only gives students more time to adequately prepare for these tests, but it also allows students to take their tests at times that work best for their schedule. For example, a student who works night shift can take their exam after they sleep instead of rushing to complete it after working an eight hour shift. These looser deadlines may actually help students attain a better work-life balance than ever before.
3. The commutes are less stressful and expensive.
Commuting to school is time-consuming and nerve-wracking. Thanks to virtual learning, though, you’ll no longer experience the pain of missing your bus or rushing to make the last train of the day. Furthermore, students are saving money that they normally spend on bus or subway passes.
4. You have the flexibility to work at your own pace.
Since a lot of professors recorded lectures this semester, students could study the course material on their own time.
5. Professors can develop creative assignments that aren’t possible in-person.
Professors have experimented with the course content in unexpected ways in hopes of keeping engagement high this fall. In fact, some teachers assigned projects in new, creative ways. For example, the jewelry students at my school actually crafted their own accessories with homemade materials instead of the usual materials. That project wouldn’t have happened if online school didn’t exist.
Although many of us never expected to make the switch to online learning this fall, students and professors have adapted and even thrived in these unprecedented conditions. While hours of lectures via Zoom and cancelled campus events put a damper on things, overall I think that online learning was beneficial for me. I hope that we can take the positives from this situation — like the camaraderie and extended deadlines — and continue to apply them even when life returns to “normal.”