It is common to hear or see comments on social media about how upsetting it is to not be able to attend face-to-face lectures and to not have access to all university facilities to study and meet up with people. However, in these uncertain times it is key to adapt to this new normality and find the positive sides of it.
Here I have a few points that I enjoyed about online learning:
1. Asynchronous lectures:
I am really not a morning person, so having face-to-face lectures as early as 9 am has always been a problem for me. Luckily, this year the university introduced asynchronous lectures which are basically pre-recorded lectures that you can watch when you make the time for it. They also provide you a timetable as a guide, and I personally try to stick to my timetable as much as I can. However, if you miss a lecture at the timetabled time there’s absolutely no problem, lectures will be ready for you whenever you want to watch them.
Also, I personally loved the fact that if my lectures were early, at 10 am for example, I could literally just wake up at 9:45 turn on my laptop, and watch it cosy in bed!
2. All materials are ready online:
You will not have the stress of having to take the course textbook from the library before anyone else. All the materials you need for the course will have an online format. All readings, seminar materials, and exercises will be conveniently uploaded in the module Blackboard page.
3. Easier to take notes:
Ever had that problem when you’re trying to take notes as quickly as possible because the lecturer is talking really fast or the topic is very complex? Or maybe you thought you would watch the recorded lecture once you get back home but you end up forgetting? This will never be a problem anymore, you can pause, fast-forward and even decrease the speed of the recorded lecture whenever you like. This will give you plenty of time to reflect on an idea and to make sure you take notes as efficiently as possible.
4. Easy Zoom meetings with professors:
Before the pandemic, sometimes it was a bit difficult to book a meeting with my lecturers because they had set open hours when I had lunch or other lectures. Now thanks to asynchronous lectures and Zoom it is easier to book a meeting, you only need a device with a connection to the internet and that’s it. You can discuss anything with your lecturer anywhere you are. Maybe whilst having some tea!
Finally, I just wanted to add that even though everything is online and human contact is definitely reduced it is still possible to make friends at these troubled times. You just have to make the most of the new channels of communication available. In my case, I joined my course Facebook page and then joined the WhatsApp group they shared there. It was fun to e-meet lots of my classmates and useful to follow key dates for upcoming online events. Also, seminars are some of the few moments you get to see each other’s faces and when you have to make a group exercise in breakout rooms use the chance to socialise a bit and ask everyone about their day. It is helpful to break the ice, make new friends and increase cooperation for the group exercise!
Depending on the situation (or tier) you can also meet up with your classmates in some university facilities.
Author: Marcelo (Gerardo) Gironda Flores, a Masters student at Alliance Manchester Business School (MBS).
(This article first appeared on https://www.alliancembs.manchester.ac.uk/blogs/positive-sides-of-online-learning-at-the-university-of-manchester)