It might be easy to lambast online learning and bemoan the ways that it has made our lives harder. For one, virtual learning has taken away the social aspect of schooling, making it difficult to connect with classmates, professors and teaching assistants. That said, here are some of the quirky perks of virtual learning that I’ve discovered this year.
1. Not Having To Get Dressed For Class
As someone who tends to oversleep, I’ve found online classes to be a godsend. Since webcams only show your face, there’s no pressure to wear something fashionable, or even appropriate for the public. I’ve attended many classes in my bathroom robes or pyjamas and I’ve become convinced that I actually learn better when I’m not dressed up!
2. Whatsapping Your Friends During Lectures
Okay, hear me out. Foreign language classes at the U of T are really hard. At least, for me, I’ve only been studying Spanish for two years and this means that I still sometimes struggle to understand full lectures in my advanced Spanish classes. However, checking in with my peers during class helps me fill in the gaps for material that I may have misheard or misunderstood.
If any of us miss a certain phrase or section, we can rely on the other students to fill us in. Likewise, whatsapping the members of my recognized study group and receiving their validation and support actually encourages me to participate more in class and boosts my confidence.
3. No Commute From Your Bed To Your Table
I cannot express enough gratitude for the fact that I no longer have to make the thirty minute commute to the University of Toronto campus. Now, any meeting or class is only as far away as my laptop is. This means that I can attend class no matter how cold or hot the weather is, and regardless of whether there are 10 inches of snow on my driveway.
4. Creating Your Own DIY Zoom Backgrounds
DIY Zoom backgrounds are a fantastic way to express your personality and have some fun with virtual learning. Some students, like Olive, enjoy decorating their walls to spice up their zoom background. I, personally, love to download images that match my mood, and paste them onto the Zoom background. Looking for a new photo each day really helps break up the monotony of Zoom calls.
5. Getting To Choose and Organize Your Work Space
For me, virtual learning really emphasized the need to curate a safe, healthy space to learn. It’s not enough to just have a desk and a chair. You need to create a space and environment that is conducive to learning, or a place where you can remain for several hours without feeling overly tired, stressed out or anxious.
Lighting candles around my desk has become a regular part of my virtual space learning routine. The soothing smells have accompanied me through stressful classes, assignments and tasks throughout this semester. These candles have taught me the importance of cultivating spaces where you truly feel comfortable and ready to learn.