Unprecedented: Reflecting on One Year of Virtual Learning

Guest Blogger, Kaytee Fisher, Undergraduate Student, March 24th, 2021

It has been officially one year of living in a global pandemic—a year full of changes and uncertainty. “Unprecedented Times” as we adapt to our “New Normal”— phrases that bombarded the media a year ago . . . phrases that I could have lived without hearing. For a while, it seemed like that was the only constant about this pandemic—that we were facing or enduring unprecedented times. 

It was certainly an unprecedented year for students, as schools and universities closed their doors and switched to remote learning. At first, cancelled classes and postponed exams didn’t seem so bad. But then that meant welcome week, beer-gardens, late-night library study sessions, any kind of social gathering, and even graduations— all canceled. Students sequestered to remote learning locations across the globe, leaving our stunning USask campus empty and quiet. 

A year later, I find myself missing the classroom setting.

USask Classroom, Photo by David Stobbe, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

I’m an unorthodox learner; more of a social learning-type. I know that I thrive best in the company of my peers. We share a common goal, my peers and I, one of academic success and accomplishment. I gravitate towards smaller sized classes where I don’t feel like I’m just a student number. I enjoy engaging in class discussions and physically surrounding myself with other like-minded individuals, who inspire and motivate me to be the best version of myself that I can be. 

Identifying as neurodivergent, I appreciate the classroom setting where my body and mind can better achieve equilibrium. Sometimes simply just getting to class on time was half the battle, but as long as I could physically get to the classroom, then the rest seemed to be smooth sailing. The classroom setting allows for my mind to wander still, but not in the same way it can get totally derailed when I’m doing at home “learning” alone. In the classroom, routine and accountability systems are established. I crave this structure– it’s vital for my academic success. After a year of remote learning, I now appreciate the classroom setting as more conducive to my education and overall academic victories. After all, our goal is to be successful and learn things.

Not surprising, remote learning has been difficult to say the least. My computer screen is now my portal to my education but it is also a portal of procrastination. 

However, there have been positive outcomes during this year of remote learning as well. Aside from the technical glitches and seemingly heavier workloads, remote learning has been much more convenient, especially with Canvas

If you miss a lecture? No problem, you can find the time later on in the week to catch up by watching the recording. If you can’t watch the recording you can use the Canvas app on your cell phone and listen to it, say, while you’re working out! Don’t want to get out of bed? Easy—you don’t have to have your video on and can listen to the lecture while still safe and warm, all cozied up. This works great if you wake up late or if that day just isn’t your day. 

Remote learning allows for us to experience our education on some of our own terms and Canvas has allowed for that experience to be a lot more accessible than before. If I have questions I can post them in a group thread on Canvas and have them answered or discussed with my classmates. Everything seems to now be at my fingertips, all I need to do is go online. Canvas allows for a much more interactive online experience, and for that I am thankful.

This all goes to say . . . I’m looking forward to seeing my peers face-to-face again. For now, we adjust and adapt . . .

 

For more support options with Canvas, see the USask Student Canvas page.

We acknowledge that the University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6, traditional Nehiyaw territory, and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respect to the First Nations and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another. 

 

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