By Ellie Brosnan
Whilst the social aspect to the attendance of in-person commitments has been lost due to the new restrictions placed on academic institutions, some positives can be drawn from our new online experiences.
Many have arguably found that the transition to remote learning has changed their previous routines and find it difficult to sustain or develop new habits, particularly with asynchronous learning. However, the greater flexibility offered by these methods of teaching can certainly be used to the advantage of individuals.
Students can capitalise on the increased independence in the timing of work to focus on those tasks that they find most difficult during periods in the day when they feel most alert and awake.
Equally, the time taken away from travelling to lectures, seminars and tutorials can be channelled into extra-curricular passions. I’ve personally found myself being able to commit more time to exercise and creative writing than I was able to in the last academic year.
A specific advantage of the actual online deliverance of content is the greater time that is available to be spent on subject matter, particularly with lectures. This is apparent in the ability to pause and rewind lecture content but also in the lecturer’s often more relaxed approach to the material.
Being able to pause enables immediate further research and thus engagement with the content. Even simply checking terminology and definitions has certainly aided me in developing a deeper understanding of my modules this term, free of the concern and worry of missing the next section of the lecture.
Tutors also appear more relaxed as they no longer have to abide to as strict a time limit, and overrunning marginally does not pose an issue to recordings or the timetabling of rooms. This increases the quality of learning as topics are no longer glossed over in an effort to finish on time. I have found that I generally engage better with lecture content as a result of the shift online.
Benefits can be drawn from online learning and should be kept in mind to help maintain a positive mentality in this ‘new normal’. However, this should not overshadow some of the inherent flaws of remote teaching.
The positives rest on the assumption that students have a quality home environment to learn from, which may not always be the case. Those who are unable to return to Durham may also suffer from problems posed by synchronous learning and differing time zones which could be very disruptive.
It is important to consider all angles to the changes that have been made to our academic lives, considering the benefits to maintain optimism but also recognising the faults so that the effects can be mitigated to aid those struggling.
Illustration: Adeline Zhao