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The Third Virtual Semester

With the COVID-19 pandemic beginning in March 2020, Monmouth University is entering its third semester of online learning. Students from colleges and universities from across the country have mixed feelings about the third semester of online learning, including myself.

Every morning has looked the same for the past few semesters. I wake up, go to the kitchen for coffee, and prepare for a day of staring at a computer screen.

Raising hands to answer questions and face-to-face interaction are a thing of the past. Instead, we unmute our microphones to speak and work in breakout groups with our fellow classmates through a screen. This new way of education has left me no choice but to see advantages and disadvantages.

Staring at a computer for hours and learning through a screen has left me feeling as if I am going through the motions of learning, without actually absorbing the information. In order to successfully retain information, students need to be self-disciplined and well organized.

With the number of hours we spend in our homes increasing, the distractions around us are endless. Not only do students have to worry about distractions from family members and the comfortability of home, but focus can be put on the backburner when learning from your couch or bedroom.

When I am in a classroom setting, it is easier for me to tune in and focus on lectures and the content in front of me without being distracted.

Although online learning has challenged many of us, I have been able to appreciate and see the benefits of it. As a commuter student, I do not have to worry about leaving for class extra early for a good parking spot. I am able to join my class five minutes before our meeting time without having any issue of missing class. My class attendance has increased significantly since online classes began.

In addition, my schedule is more flexible with online learning. During the school year, I babysit for a close family friend for extra money. Now, I am able to give them more availability because of a more flexible schedule, and therefore make more money.

To say online learning has been a challenge is an understatement. The education system has been completely reconstructed in a very short amount of time. Students have had no choice but to adapt quickly to this change in the learning process.

While it can be easy to focus on the hardships and negatives of online learning, there are benefits to this new construction of curriculum. Although Zoom fatigue can sometimes get the best of me and I can get easily distracted, I am happy I do not have to commute 30 minutes away for my classes and struggle to find a parking spot.

With endless resources and absences being a thing of the past, students are adapting to a new way of learning and adjusting to a new normal.


PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University