Online classes come with many new challenges students are still adapting to — but, if Western students can learn to navigate the labyrinth of campus and London’s bar scene in less than a week, we can figure out how to unmute on Zoom calls before answering a question.
Yes, there will be a learning curve, but university is about innovating for the future. And like it or not, online classes are here to stay.
Online classes are nothing new; every student has probably taken at least one in their academic career. But that’s just it — online classes are usually the occasional, one-per-year type of class. To have a whole semester purely online is another beast many students aren’t ready to face. This is the new reality during the pandemic.
But, changing the conventional means of delivering a lecture isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There’s many reasons why online classes are good — regardless of COVID-19 — and should be here to stay.
Classes delivered via laptop mean you don’t have to travel anywhere — students don’t need to deal with Western University’s infamous parking problems or push their way into a bus that is definitely over capacity. And this year, if you're completing classes remotely, you don’t even have to pay for a bus pass. Zoom calls are a yawn and a click away — and what university student is going to pass up the opportunity to sleep more?
Speaking of savings, at home you have a built-in Starbucks, Subway and Manchu Wok — it’s called your kitchen. Odds are, if you’re on campus, you’re no stranger to long lines and dropping five dollars on a daily a cup of coffee. Or two. Online classes force students to spend a little less and save a little more.
Transitioning classes online might be frightening for the majority of students, but for some, it’s a saving grace. For those who are disabled, immunocompromised or are struggling with mental health, online classes can be necessary and provide a way to access education without sacrificing their well-being.
Online classes have also forced a spotlight on the disparities in access to technology; if students need to study from home, this means that they will need a reliable internet connection and technology — aspects that have often been overlooked with in-person classes. Online education forces the university to pay attention to the issue that every student needs a laptop, not just those who can afford it. Economic divides within the student body will be more clearly seen and — hopefully — addressed.
In-person classes will return, especially for those who are enrolled in more hands-on programs. But like everything post-pandemic, they will not be the same.
At the end of the day, online classes do more good than harm — accessible education that accommodates everyone is something we should be striving for and, now that we have a foundation for it, we shouldn't let it go.
Disagree with our opinion? Read the other side of the story here.
This article is part of our annual Frosh Issue, read the full issue online.