MY VIRTUAL LEARNING EXPERIENCE
by Lillian Dickman
Growing up, I was a typical student in a traditional learning environment. I sat at a desk in a physical school building, learning from a teacher in a classroom full of other students. This was my norm until my third year of college in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic turned the educational world upside down. The sudden shift from traditional schooling to a virtual environment posed a learning curve for many students, including myself. Amidst the chaos, I adapted and found positivity in this new world of eLearning. As a recent college graduate, here are my lessons learned and key takeaways from the virtual learning experience:
Easily Connect with Others: With eLearning, we connected with course instructors and students without physically meeting. Courses were able to be conducted through virtual meetings where it did not matter where people were located. This made it easier for students to be able to meet with others to get work done from the comfort of home. We could also reach instructors through online chatting at any time rather than scheduling time to visit in-person during specific office hours. Although virtual environments will never quite replace in-person experiences, I learned that it is possible to still connect when physically distant.
Learn Self-Paced: Online courses can be self-paced, and they are designed to be more flexible with your time. In the traditional classroom setting, all students must try to work and follow along at the same pace. Because everyone has different learning styles and schedules, eLearning accommodates for all these variances. Students can either fly through lessons or take more time to digest it. I was an involved and active student on campus, so it was helpful to have the flexibility to progress in certain online classes on my own time. Instead of needing to run across campus to make it to class, I could review class content, re-watch lectures, and complete coursework when I was ready to. Although I had never been able to take courses on my own time prior to COVID-19, the self-paced learning was beneficial because I was able to tailor my course completion timeline to my learning style as well as gain a sense of independence in my education.
Embrace Change: If 2020 taught us anything, it was to be adaptable. While everything was shutting down, we became more open to change around us. After being suddenly sent home from school in the spring of 2020, spending my last year of college constantly battling a pandemic was not how I expected my college years to end. It was a rollercoaster of change or, as many have described it, “unprecedented times,” with no way of knowing what the future held. Despite this, I am grateful that modern technology was still able to bring some normalcy to the world. Universities and schools began offering eLearning services to be able to continue to provide an education to students. Students then embraced this new way of learning as a way of bringing a little consistency back into our lives. Although there was an adjustment period of learning the ins and outs of how remote courses operated, I was able to find positivity and embrace change.
Prepare for Remote Work Environment: Not only were schools pushed to virtual environments, but workplaces were as well. Employees also had to go through the same learning curve with working a job from home. Instead of having people visit your desk to speak with you, coworkers ping you in Microsoft Teams Chat. Rather than sitting in a big conference room for a meeting, you sit on a Zoom call while someone shares their screen for a presentation. COVID-era students were able to prepare for this new way of working by learning the technology and software used to support remote environments while in school. As a student during the pandemic, I regularly used Zoom and Microsoft Teams as my main resources for connecting with teachers and classmates. Young professionals and recent graduates have the upper hand in having the best understanding of these online tools compared to older employees who did not have the same opportunity to study in these virtual spaces while in school. Learning things as simple as how to create and join virtual meetings or knowing how to turn the mute button on and off are things that seem intuitive but still require some training.
Since graduating from college in 2021, I have started my career in a remote environment that still heavily relies on these technologies. I am thankful I had a solid foundation of how to use these tools prior to starting my full-time position. Learning how to efficiently work from home is a skillset that has taught me the significance of both independence and time management. Overall, my biggest takeaway is that technology is an incredibly powerful and crucial tool for not only the academic world but also the corporate world.
CountryIntel Online Distance Learning Solutions: Country Intelligence Group has specific expertise in remote learning services. From curriculum design and development, eLearning, training delivery in all modes, and training/education program management, our team can craft the perfect solution for your needs. CountryIntel can help your organization easily connect with others through eLearning platforms, regardless of physical distance. I have learned through my experience with remote education that no matter how course content is delivered, students are still able to be trained and educated at the same level of excellence. Embrace the changes in today’s cutting-edge course delivery and partner with Country Intelligence Group for optimal results.
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