Opinion: Online learning has proven lackluster

The semester is in full swing and most Suffolk University students are engulfed in online classes due to the restrictions of mass gatherings during COVID-19

Online classes have been more complicated than I had imagined. Taking an online class has proven to be more difficult than taking past in-person classes.   

I’m not alone in this sentiment. According to Educationdata.org, of the 97% of students who have switched to online instruction this year, 63% indicated the instruction they received was worse compared to in-person instruction. 

Another major issue with online learning is the ability to focus. A survey conducted by Barnes and Noble College Insights looked into this issue. In a survey of college students across the U.S., they found 64% have concerns about their ability to focus.

I find myself struggling to keep focus during class and homework time while living with four people. There is constant noise in the background of my zoom classes. I usually find myself staring out of my bedroom window, watching my busy street as I practically ignore what is on my computer. 

A College Pulse and Charles Koch Foundation Study published a survey of 5,000 college students in June 2020. Students reported online classes were less effective in helping students in multiple forms: developing critical thinking, building particular skills, acquiring subject knowledge and developing social skills. Students reported online classes were less effective than in-person classes especially in critical areas, such as acquiring subject knowledge, building particular skills, developing social skills and critical thinking. 

Some Suffolk students believe online classes have been more helpful than in-person classes. Jordan Miller, a junior majoring in business management, prefers virtual learning. 

“I actually like online classes,” said Miller. “I’ve actually gotten so much better at time management and haven’t been doing things in the very last minute or been completely overwhelmed by the amount of homework that needs to get done. So, it definitely hasn’t been too bad.”

Miller has been lucky with her experience– her boost in motivation is somewhat rare compared to all the students struggling with virtual learning. A  study by William Paterson University personnel evaluated the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on mental health among undergraduate students. 77.8% of students reported difficulty in their ability to focus and complete academic work.

Although I desperately miss sitting in a downtown classroom, I think it is important to be thankful for the ability to learn online. I understand and appreciate the restrictions Suffolk has put on in-person learning, but it has been a struggle. For now, I think it is time to try to make the best of a weird situation.