VOICES: I hate online classes

Category:  Opinions
Tuesday, September 8th, 2020 at 12:46 PM

I hate online classes. I am 100% sure that I’m not the only person who feels this way.  

Yes, I can attend in pajamas and without ever having to leave my bed. Yes, I don’t have to make uncomfortable eye contact with other students in the class or give presentations where no matter how much I prepare for them, something always slips my mind. There are certainly perks to online classes that in-person instruction just doesn’t offer. In person, I can’t just turn invisible and take the lecture with me to the kitchen to get a snack.  

But, on the other hand, there’s just something about face-to-face learning that can’t be captured through my computer's tiny camera.  

I actually enjoy waking up for class. That crisp morning air almost feels magical as I walk through campus, surrounded by other students weighed down with backpacks, art portfolios, and steaming cups of coffee. The dew makes my sneakers wet when I cut across the grass, attempting a faster route to the door of the building which holds my final destination.  

I have none of that now. And some small form of magic has been taken from me. Instead, I wake up, sit at my desk, turn on my laptop, and I’m in class. I have days now where I don’t leave my house. I have no reason to anymore. Sometimes I think the four walls of my bedroom are closing in on me. But I’ve lost more than just the little joy of campus in the mornings. Somehow classes have lost their importance to me.   

Sitting in a physical classroom puts pressure on me. Not only can the professor see me, but my peers can too. They hold me accountable for paying attention. Judging looks get thrown my way if I’m not taking notes. I have to make sure I’ve done all the necessary homework so I can answer questions thrown my way or, god forbid, discuss the material amongst a small group. But none of that happens online. No one but my goldfish in his bowl across my room watches me take my notes. No one is there to surprise me with a question, attempting to catch me off guard and prove that I haven’t read the assigned sonnets.  

My attention wavers, if it’s there at all during an online class. There is nothing stopping me from pulling up a separate tab and doing some shopping, my professor’s voice nothing but ambient noise. Asking questions is an awkward task: to unmute or not to unmute? That is the actual question. There's nothing stopping me from not logging into these calls. Most lectures are recorded and posted online. So, if I decide to stay in bed and sleep through my class, it doesn’t matter. I haven’t missed anything.  

I also find that sitting in the same spot all day long offers me no variety in my surroundings. My bedroom doesn’t change. It’s not like walking into a new room three times a day with an array of other students all looking different from the last time I saw them.

So, I did some research, aimed at improving my waning attention.  

CHADD, an organization established to help improve the lives of those with attention disorders, urges students to move around their environment when possible, especially if they are utilizing remote learning as a result of the pandemic. If they have multiple places that foster a suitable learning environment, they should bounce between those places so they don’t struggle with the monotony of being sedentary in one place. I’ve been trying my best to switch up my surroundings. I sit in different rooms in my house throughout my school day so I don’t feel so bored. Changing my setting helps me escape those closing walls.  

Another surprising hurdle: I typically handwrite all of my notes. I don’t bring my laptop to class because it serves no purpose to me other than tempting me with games of chess against online strangers. But now my laptop is class. So, despite this, I continue to handwrite all notes. It is so tempting to use the voice to text feature and have professors literally write my notes for me. But I know that to keep my brain involved in what's going on, I need some stimuli, and writing out notes seems to work for me.   

CHADD also suggests students who suffer with attention issues keep a detailed calendar of all assignments and online meetings. Not only does this help me keep track of assignments so nothing slips through the cracks, but it's a tangible kind of accountability. Like I mentioned before, some accountability is lost when classes are online, but having a list of things to check off throughout the day helps recreate the sense of responsibility that’s currently missing. Finding a classmate to be your accountability partner is also helpful. While students can’t meet up in person to study together, video chats work almost as well and can help combat any feelings of isolation.  

Online classes are not ideal. I’m bored all the time and sometimes feel really alone. The more time I spend in my house, the more I’m convinced it's shrinking. But being creative about the ways I study and stimulate my brain, so I don’t miss entire lectures, has helped me stay motivated to get work completed.  

But honestly, no matter how many rooms I study in or color-coded lists I make, nothing will ever replace the magic of Edinboro’s campus. 

Emily Anderson is the Voices Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at voices.spectator@gmail.com.

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