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Online Learning – A Response to the COVID-19

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Online learning at METU, NCC

The startling glare at something that came out of nowhere, taking its toll on the world within a pretty short period has given rise to a lot of changes. Obviously, we know that the cause for these changes is none other than the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, this raised a lot of questions in the minds of many people. Some have been answered and some haven’t. Honestly, these questions vary from person to person, geographic location, or just any field you find yourself. Talking about METU, the most pertinent question was that of the continuation of education, as we know how truly significant this is. The instability and confusion were unnerving. People didn’t know what was coming next and what to expect. It was very unclear. Online education was the only available resort, and we shall talk about this subject in greater detail later.

As time passes on, METU, NCC, despite the chaos, hasn’t lost sight of two critical priorities. These priorities are:

  1. The safety of its students, and
  2.  The standard of education which it upholds.

The first critical priority is talked about in the blog which you can find HERE. Our concern in this blog is the second critical priority- continuing education during this period.

Was online learning the last resort?

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has globally affected and changed the standard way of education, and METU, NCC has had a very distinct and drastic style of responding. But before we get into the response, let’s delve a little into the sudden change. As I said, the turn was so unexpected. One day, students are in lecture halls, the next day, there’s a state of emergency, and everyone is in quarantine. As the cases of infection from the COVID-19 virus kept increasing, more restrictions were implemented, eventually halting face-to-face learning. There was no possibility of anyone having less than a meter or two from a neighbor. It grew pretty intense.

As a result, METU quickly decided to take the semester online. It happened so fast; it took me some time to digest the reality of the situation. As time went by, I became used to the idea of waking up ten minutes before the lectures and joining in. A few weeks later, following the trend of the pandemic, METU, NCC’s administration decided that the entire semester would be conducted remotely. At the moment, all lectures, exams, assignments, supplementary instruction sessions and teachers’ office hours are online.

How do students feel about online learning?

Of course, every student has a different online learning experience. Some students think it’s very tiresome; others think it’s great. Well, if you ask me what I think, I’ll say that it’s genuinely been a mixture of both amazing and tiresome. I believe I share my experience with many students. Considering that I stay off-campus, and instead of the routine of waking up early to catch the bus, sprinting to class, and having to move up and down for lectures, the new preparation for classes is to stay in bed, grab my laptop and a hot cup of coffee. I mean, what better sense of luxury could you add to that?

What is the nature of online learning?

Well, as usual, teachers teach, students listen. Obviously, there’s more to that. Everything is at a stage where the only option is to adapt. Frankly, complete online learning is a new experience for most of the students, and while the feeling of having classes in your home is joyous, there are lots of challenges with adapting to the new system. At this point, because of these challenges, I agree with people when they say online lectures are tiresome.

Now, let’s talk a bit about the difficulties of adapting to the online system. With the world being a global village and the advancements of technology, it might sound a bit strange when you say online lectures come with difficulties. Understandably, there’s a point there, but I cannot count the number of times when my lecturers would pause during the teaching session to think of a better way to adequately explain some concepts that are somewhat difficult to explain virtually. Agreeably, some explanations are better done in person, most especially engineering explanations. METU, NCC is a technical University where you can’t replace the use of different art or body language to make more concepts more easy to grasp.

Surprisingly, the issue of clarity of concepts is not the only issue. While physical adaptation to this process could be on the way, psychological state must back it up.

What is the psychological aspect of online education?

There are two parts to the psychological state, namely:

  1. The struggle to keep sane during the long, and seemingly unending lock-down.
  2. The mental acceptance that you are indeed going through school, but at a different, more comfortable location.

Starting with the first part, I’ve had a lot of friends tell me that they are always trying not to “lose it.” By “it”, they mean their minds. Definitely, not everyone can relate to this, but it’s reasonable to accept that lockinhg yourself up in the same place for a long time can tamper with your mental state. Well, the administration understands this significantly, and in response, has set up online psychological counselling sessions to cater to this need.

Although mentally accepting that you are going through school in your home might not sound difficult, I can very much relate to this difficulty, and I’m sure many others can as well. Honestly, I’m going through school, but it doesn’t seem like it. It feels like a break. A pep talk on how your soul needs to rise to this realization would be tough to deliver its purpose.

A situation where students sleep and wake up in their homes/dorms without being able to go anywhere the following day defines a student’s break. I mean, getting to change that definition all of a sudden could be quite difficult. It always feels like the student is on a break. As a result, issues like unproductivity and procrastination arise. These are the primary challenges students face with online education.

To sum up…

In conclusion, there are always two sides to the coin, but when it comes to online education, there’s a set-out general problem faced by students and lecturers at METU, NCC- adaptation. Obviously, upon continuing this form of education, everyone gets used to it. But before then, the need to join forces in fighting the things before us, through accommodation and collaboration, cannot be over-emphasized.

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  1. Pingback: CNG 100 Proficiency Exam at METU, NCC | MetuCyprus Blog

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