The Pros And Cons Of Online Learning

Fernando Fernández/Staff Writer

Welp, folks, it may be hard to believe, but we are finally reaching the endgame. In a little less than a month, the semester ends, and the time to look back begins. Under normal circumstances, said thoughts would usually be reserved solely for our grades and newly-made friendships. However, this semester, like the entire year as a whole, has been anything but normal.

Following the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent wave, which hit Florida particularly hard during the summer, most FIU courses immediately transitioned into remote learning — a fundamentally new experience that we have had to get used to. Given that an ugly third wave of COVID-19 is almost imminent, it’s worth looking back on the semester to examine the good and the bad. This way, if we return to a similar situation next semester, we have a better idea of what to expect and what can be improved upon.

So, without any further ado, here’s my two cents:

The Good

For me, one of the best things about online learning is being able to listen to some lectures again via recordings that are usually sent by some professors after class. It allows me to catch the stuff that I sometimes miss — stuff which could prove to be very important information in a number of tests and assignments. 

Furthermore, I found that scheduling appointments with professors was much much easier, given that, in most cases, you can just click a Zoom link at the professor’s office hours and you immediately get attended to.

In many ways, my life was also made easier as a student. Not having to drive to campus allows people like me, who live far away, to be much more flexible with our schedules. At an age like mine, when one is both seizing opportunities and dealing with responsibilities, this is incredibly helpful. 

Now onto the bad.

The Bad

One of the things that I find very lacking in the online learning process, is the interactive nature of an ordinary in-person class. Participation is not as high, and group activities just don’t feel the same. 

There was a certain charm to meeting in person with classmates, getting to know them and potentially developing friendships. This is simply not the same online, where everything is more strictly professional and straight-to-the-point. 

Now, of course, there is no way to fully bring this back, as long as public health is a concern. Public health is always first. Therefore, it would be patently irresponsible to bring everything back to normal until at least a vaccine is readily available. However, this can be improved by fomenting more participation in the online classes, and by assigning short group activities more frequently. The breakout session feature in Zoom is excellent, and ought to be used more.

Furthermore, there is always the possibility of internet problems (lagging, and crashing), which can make the experience very unpleasant sometimes. And with storms being a frequent occurrence in this state, this can be a very serious problem for many students, especially if the lectures are not recorded for any given class.

And that’s another problem. Given the potential for problems, that clearly exists, I do not get why some courses do not record their lectures. After all, this is critical information, we’re talking about here — information which could be unavailable to students if problems such as lagging and crashing arise. Hence, why one of the improvements I would suggest is recording all lectures so that students have a backup, in the case of technical difficulties.

Having said all of that, I am quite content with the experience, so far. Of course, it’s not perfect, and improvements can be made to ensure an even better experience, but given the circumstances, I think FIU did a hell of a job. 

Kudos to us!


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

Photo by Jamie on Flickr.

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