It’s no secret that the unexpected switch to online learning has thrown a curve ball into the lives of students across the world. To some, more disciplined students, this may have been an easy adjustment that was actually a bit more comfortable. Some may enjoy sitting in their pajamas, playing Netflix in the background and lounging on their couch while getting to work on their laptop. But others, myself included, have had a much different experience.
There are a couple topics I’d like to talk about in this post, one of them being the differences in productivity due to the transition to online classes, and the second being why the transition has been so difficult, and essentially a total bust of a semester for some, (me in particular). As a student that is easily distracted, learning at Geneseo in the 2019-2020 academic year was already a challenge. Milne closed, forcing me to rely on a little desk in the corner of my apartment facing a blank wall to get my work done. Luckily, having the responsibility of showing up to class every day gave me the push to continue pressing on with my school work from day to day. I was very successful in the fall semester, as well as the beginning of the spring.
Then came the pandemic. What started as just talk, soon turned into harsh reality. One day I was in class with my peers, and the next I was being told I had to move out completely and leave the town of Geneseo. I had so many questions: How will classes continue? I’m an education major; what about my practicum hours that take place in schools? Why do I have to leave all my friends? Eventually, my questions were answered. But in the meantime, my ability to focus went from a 7/10 to about a 3. My mind was everywhere BUT school. Family members and people everywhere were losing jobs, we were worried about leaving the house just to get food to eat. I was unproductive for the first 2 weeks at least. Not having the pressure of simply showing up to class made it extremely difficult to stay motivated and disciplined with school work.
Now to the main source of distraction: social media. It’s been a problem for years now. Social media has been an issue for a variety of reasons since it first began to grow. There are so many different platforms now; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the biggest recently is TikTok. Hours can pass in what feels like seconds scrolling through these sites. I will start an assignment, take a break to eat lunch and check Instagram, and within minutes I’m consumed into this little digital world that wraps you in. What I find to be most interesting though, is the way social media has connected with my experience of online learning. I could go on and on about the issues of SM, but the biggest problem that everyone can agree on is that people get a little too comfortable when talking online. They can hide behind a screen and avoid confrontation. If they don’t like what you say? Dislike. Or even a simple logoff for the night. And this is exactly what happened to me in terms of online school.
The only thing that kept me accountable in a couple of my classes was the weekly zoom calls. Aside from that, if I got an email from a teacher, it was far too easy to simply not open it. The physical stress I felt every time I received a canvas notification was overwhelming. So what was the easiest thing to do? Avoid and hide. I would close my laptop, turn off notifications, whatever it took to avoid my work. And instead, on the days that I wasn’t working (at a local ice cream shop by the way-is ice cream really “essential”?) I was laying on the couch scrolling through social media.
I can’t help but wonder what the world will look like after this pandemic is over, if it’ll ever truly be the same. Taking this course focused on the “Digital Age” has really opened my eyes to the developing world of technology. I am curious to see if one day all schooling will be done how it is now, if we are getting a taste of what is to come for our children, or their children. To me, it’s a frightening thought. Social media holds more power than many of us realize. Yesterday, I deleted it. And that is why today I am back on my laptop completing my work for the semester after weeks of avoidance. I am looking forward to seeing what else I discover about the effects of the internet after detaching myself from its unforgiving grip.