Virtual Learning
Virtual learning actually might improve the college experience. (Illustration by Malini Basu, Macalester College)
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Virtual Learning
Virtual learning actually might improve the college experience. (Illustration by Malini Basu, Macalester College)

Online classes aren’t as bad as you might think.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, our daily lives have undergone drastic changes, and the return to normal is uncertain. One major shift every college student can expect in the upcoming fall semester is virtual learning. While completing classes remotely is extremely different from what full-time students are accustomed to, distance learning provides many benefits. From having extra free time to saving money, here are five perks of online classes:

1. Professors are allowing more flexibility with homework and deadlines

Amid the unprecedented pandemic, some professors are finding ways to make life easier for their students. These efforts include assigning less homework and giving students more time to complete assignments.

With many students experiencing a variety of circumstances at home, even the most high-strung professors are showing empathy by extending due dates and abandoning penalties for late work. Many college students may be struggling with distracting home environments, unemployment, health issues or other unforeseen circumstances caused by the pandemic. With a bit of empathy and understanding, professors can help students succeed in a time where a global health crisis has dramatically changed all aspects of life.

While it is important not to take advantage of a professor’s leniency, it is comforting for students to know that extra time is negotiable.

2. Course materials are accessible 24/7

In the upcoming semester, students can look forward to class materials like PowerPoints, lectures and texts all being available online. While some professors might lack technical savviness, most are more than willing to learn how to save Zoom lectures, upload slideshows and attach important classroom texts to their course websites.

Furthermore, carrying a heavy textbook around between classes is a thing of the past. Even if a professor requires the purchase of a textbook, the longest walk will be from just across the room.

Having materials readily available is an important aspect of success with online courses. Twenty-four-hour access is helpful for students who live in different time zones, work night shifts or must wait for younger siblings to go to bed before beginning to study.

3. Virtual learning is possible in the comfort of your own home

College students naturally seek convenience and take the saying “work smarter, not harder” to another level. Virtual learning has the intention of being easy and efficient by making materials and lectures available to students with the click of a button.

Zoom and Google Classroom are two platforms that make it extremely easy to attend virtual lectures anywhere. Both websites are obvious choices for university professors; however, Zoom has a better design for academic settings. While Google Classroom offers many of the same components as Zoom, such as screen sharing or in-conference chats, there are several important features that only Zoom possesses. Unlike its competitor, Zoom gives professors the tools to incorporate polling, to launch break out rooms and to record the meeting. Being able to record the lecture will make it easy for students to return to the recording and review material that they either didn’t understand the first time, or need to know for a test.

Virtual meetings are strikingly different from seeing a lecture in-person. Being able to type questions directly into the chat or rewinding the recording to review material is a game-changer for university students. These components might significantly alter how classes are conducted in the future and might inspire professors to continue recording lectures post-pandemic.

Though some professors might require a business-casual dress code for a Zoom meeting, students might be able to get away with keeping on their pajama bottoms.

Since staying at home is the new normal, online classes make it easy for college kids to be comfortable while still getting their degree.

4. Remote classrooms save time and money

Though many campuses encourage eco-friendly transportation like riding a bike or taking the bus, most college students still opt to drive to their classes. Thanks to virtual learning, the frustrating process of circling a parking garage looking for a spot is no longer a problem. Not only will students always be punctual for class, but they will also save time by avoiding the hassle of parking. Similarly, as library materials move into an online database, college kids can skip the extra trip and search for their textbook virtually instead.

While there’s no guarantee that online classes will be cheaper than in-person lectures, the money that students will save by using their cars less frequently will surely add up.

By staying home with online classes, students will undoubtedly save gas, time and money.

5. Students will have more time for themselves or to develop their professional resumes

Not only will remote classes help students make the most of their weekly budget, but it will also afford them the greatest gift of all: time.

Since college students are perpetually on the go, virtual learning can effectively cut out unnecessary travel time and get students started for a day of productivity. Instead of lingering in the courtyard waiting for their next class to start, students can continue working on speeches, papers and internships right after their Zoom meeting has ended. Interruptions can cause a break in focus, but virtual learning keeps students engaged and concentrated on their schoolwork.

With more time on their hands, college students can begin looking for internships and other work being conducted virtually. Though the COVID-19 pandemic has altered many vital experiences for students, it is still possible to build a resume and remain competitive in a post-pandemic job market.

Ultimately, this upcoming fall semester might not be the last time virtual learning is a topic of discussion. As the world becomes increasingly dependent on technology, Zoom lectures and online-textbooks might become a new norm, even if in-person classes do resume. Though our current state is one of ambiguity, college students are quick to adapt to new circumstances. Given enough time and assistance from professors, students will surely warm up to the idea of completing classes remotely.

Writer Profile

Danielle Kuzel

Florida State University

Psychology major at Florida State University who loves writing, thrift shopping, family and her cat. Hoping to make a difference through writing, advocating and standing up for issues that are important.

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