The pros and cons of online college learning

Another added benefit of online learning is that new technological resources are used to enhance learning, which I believe is long overdue. Before the pandemic, most students and faculty relied on the old method, using PowerPoint slides and submitting papers in person.

Although the slides remain, previously unknown platforms are now central to many teachers’ online programs. An example is the BlinkLearning digital education platform. Students can purchase books, open them through the platform’s website, and complete assignments assigned by their teachers. I can personally attest to the effectiveness of the platform as I am using it myself this current semester to learn German.

A downside of online learning is the lack of face-to-face interactions, and not being physically on campus takes away from the typical college experience. Another negative aspect in Saudi Arabia is that some female students are too shy to turn on their cameras. This is understandable because the lessons are recorded, but it reduces the possibilities for the teacher to feel a real interaction with his students. (See a related article, “Qatar Universities Helping Students Stay Connected in a Remote Learning World.”)

Other campus facilities have not been used since the start of the pandemic, such as study halls, the university’s abundant library and restaurants. (See related article, “Pandemic casts shadow over extracurricular activities of Egyptian students.”)

It cannot be denied that certain aspects of college life were taken for granted by students and faculty members. I miss bumping into my classmates or teachers in the hallways and giving them a nod or a smile. Another downside, other than the lack of physical contact, is that due to the lack of facial expressions, teachers tend not to take breaks for questions or discussions while teaching. The pandemic has removed the possibility of spontaneous discussions in a virtual classroom, as both sides watch the finish line more than they would have on a physical campus.(See a related article, “Second wave of Covid-19 casts doubt on resuming studies on campus.”)

Mixed feelings about a virtual graduation

Being so close to my own finish line, with my graduation approaching in a few months, I am excited and disappointed. Any future graduate will surely experience a mix of emotions, but a virtual graduation brings its own wave of emotions, since YouTube is the center of the stage on which we will be standing, rather than the university auditorium. (See a related article, “Ajman University Caps a Challenging Year with a Drive-Through Graduation”.)

Although no graduation plan has yet been announced at my university, there may be a chance that there will be a real physical graduation ceremony.

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The university emailed me about a graduation photo shoot and other future graduates and some of my classmates participated, but I was not interested due to my lack of love for cameras.

Overall, the online learning experience was a success and I am grateful for all the efforts made by my teachers, the administration of universities across Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Education and the IT departments everywhere for making it possible for us all to connect. and stable.

Haifaa M. Mussallam is a 23-year-old published poet and nearly graduated in English Literature from Effat University, Jeddah.

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