With the beginning chaos of starting online learning here at Whitman, the first things that come to mind are the losses and hardships that come with it. But since we are starting another week and individuals are getting the hang of things, there are a lot of good things that come from online learning as well.
In my Beginning New Genre Art Practice course, Professor Lincoln pointed out the share screen feature of our Zoom accounts. It was a personalized viewing of everyone’s screen, and each of us took turns in sharing something – an image, a video, or simply our desktop background. With this feature, there was no turning heads or crowding around a single screen but everyone had the exact same view at the exact same time. This experience was never something we had access to when we were in class and it has proven to be a beneficial feature of our online learning, perhaps bringing us even closer together.
Another feature in my Encounters course is being split into groups to discuss text and discussion questions. Usually in Encounters, when being split the room would be roaring with conversation on different ends of the room with waves of loud chatter followed by awkward silences as well. But with the ability to have small group discussions online, it is just you in a silent room with a few familiar faces… and no background noise! I personally have found group meetings far less distracting when online rather than in person.
Lastly, I have figured out how to balance personal reading with course work. Even through high school, I struggled to find time to read books that I wanted to read outside of class, during the school year. It is just such a busy time where you are expected to read so much for courses that there seems to be no time except during breaks. But with so much time on my hands even after completing coursework, I found myself being able to read personal finds right before bed, in the morning when I wake up, and even the middle of the day when I need a break from course required readings.
When going through tough and unprecedented times like the COVID-19 pandemic and active “stay at home” orders, it is very easy to look at the downside. But once you get over the atypical schedule and circumstance, there are plenty of opportunities to realize the good that can come from the chaos.