The beauty found in the imperfections of remote learning

by Mohammad Samra / Section Editor

A snapshot of higher education’s new reality: Zoom lectures. Photo by Mohammad Samra.

From the day I first became a student at Roosevelt University in 2017, I’ve been doing homework deep into the night and into the early morning. I sometimes saw the sun creep up and color the pitch-black sky with an orangish-yellow glow as I finished up the last of my math questions or put the finishing touches on a 15 page, semester-long final project for Journalism 390.

For my first three years at Roosevelt, I, like many others, commuted downtown to attend in-person lectures. However, the dangers of the pandemic has put many students — from preschool to college — in an unfamiliar, uncomfortable and downright undesirable position regarding their education. Before March, I only vaguely knew what Zoom was. Now, Zoom is the digital substitute to my entire senior year.

There are many obvious flaws in remote learning. Not everybody has immediate access to a reliable internet connection. Not everybody has a quiet space to sit through hours of lectures or class discussions. Not everybody has a working laptop, functional camera, or technological knowledge to thrive in a completely virtual educational setting. Some students (and teachers) benefit much more from face-to-face instruction. But while learning remotely does have its flaws, there are also many positives to the process that go unnoticed. 

In order to make it to my 9:30 a.m. class on time, I’d have to wake up two-and-a-half hours earlier. I’d take the 8:02 a.m. Metra train from Palos Heights to Union Station. If I was lucky, the ride lasted 45 minutes — though various delays often made rides closee to an hour. After making it to Union Station, I walked 20 minutes, often in the blistering Chicago wind, before arriving to class. Riding the Metra isn’t cheap. I paid nearly $200 a month to commute to and from Roosevelt. I sometimes waited two hours before riding the next available train back to Palos Heights, often missing my first 20 or 30 minutes of work. 

With remote learning, I’m no longer at the mercy of the Metra. I’m fortunate enough to wake up 10 minutes before my class starts, and can attend without leaving the comfort of my bed. The money I’m saving on train tickets helped me pay off my tuition quicker, and I haven’t missed a minute of work since the semester started. 

I’ve also become much better at utilizing the Blackboard app to my advantage. I seldom knew what my grades were throughout any point of a given semester during my first three years. This semester, I’m able to see where I am at in each class because of how Blackboard-savvy my professors have become.   

Since I don’t have to allot at least two hours of my day to commuting, I can spend more time producing higher quality work for my classes without trading hours of sleep in my bed for a 20-minute nap on the stairs of a Metra train in between school and work. Although the experience may not be the same, I still feel like I’m gaining something valuable from each of my classes. 

Despite the benefits of remote learning, I still miss many aspects of in-person classes that made the college experience so special for me. I have so many memories attached to both the Wabash and Auditorium building — from corny ice-breaker exercises during freshman-year orientation to sitting through courses in AUD 362, my favorite classroom. 

While nothing will replace the effectiveness of hands-on learning in an actual class setting, remote-learning, despite its flaws, has to be the next best option.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Recent Posts

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