photo courtesy of ideas.ted.com

By Naia Fermino

Waking up thirty minutes before class, sitting in your pajamas while you do work and not having to actually step foot on campus to attend school seems like it would be a dream for most right? While some individuals might find themselves right in their element, those who prefer to learn in a classroom you might find that they’re living in a nightmare. Completing work at home through online schooling has been an option for some time now and in certain cases is actually the norm but this recent gravitation to online education was brought on due to the current COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world. Cape Cod Community College (4Cs) first sent out it’s first alert pertaining to this epidemic to its faculty and students on March 12th stating that after spring break classes would switch to an online format.

While some individuals may have explored the world of online learning before, this prior experience does not make the switch from classroom to computer any easier. Students choose what classes they feel comfortable completing on their own time and when they register for an online course, that course has been structured specifically for online learning. With face-to-face classes now meeting virtually, they are being forced to alter themselves into an online format that may not fit with the class material originally assigned. Mid-semester students and professors are being asked to completely alter their entire learning experience while also absorbing the academic material.

“One main reason why I’m taking classroom classes is because I’m not good with online courses,” said 4Cs student, Erica Polite. “I fuss every time I need a required class that is only offered online.”

Adjusting to this new way of learning can seem scary and maybe even a bit daunting to students and teachers who may need that face-to-face interaction to be able to pick up the information. Not knowing when this whole situation will end is another variable weighing on the minds of everyone dealing with this switch and for those who are seriously struggling, motivation levels are being interfered with.

With daily routine’s being completely changed individuals who no longer have a set schedule may find it difficult to stay motivated.

“I keep telling myself the semester is almost over, try not to throw in the towel,” said Polite.

There was a rush for a lot of individuals to answer the simple question: What am I going to do now and how am I going to do it?

“At first, it was extremely difficult due to the such short notice that was given to students,” said Jeffrey Britt, another 4Cs student apprehensive with the switch. “I wasn’t mentally prepared for the transition to online format. Also, during that transition, the hype in the media surrounding COVID-19 made it difficult for me to study.”

When the news broke that individuals would have to switch to online professors kicked into gear modifying lectures and assignments that they had planned for a whole semester in just one or two weeks, as well as in some cases, completely teaching themselves a whole new means of technology just to be able to interact with their students via video chat.

“I believe that I will reflect on this time as the most challenging in my life, both personally and professionally,” said Kate Callender, Ph.D. Professor of Biology at 4Cs. “The immediate necessity to convert all of my courses to an online format has created a mountain of work that seems overwhelming at times.”

Not only is it possible for someone to struggle with the work itself as well as adapting to this new format, but individuals who don’t have the right technology in their homes and rely on campus resources such as the library for internet access may find themselves facing more of a struggle than the rest.

Despite difficulty’s people are experiencing with having to suddenly work from home most are still trying their best to be more cooperate with others when it comes to difficulties with the material and completing the coursework to the best of their ability. Some of the same students and professor’s struggling are also trying to find the positives within these changes.

“At first I was flustered, almost to the point of giving up on some classes seeing all I had was my dad’s old laptop and lousy internet service via my AT&T hotspot,” said student, Britt. “But then I realized I needed to invest in my education and acquire a new PC, desk, printer, office chair and Comcast internet. Secondly, I set up an office in my spare bedroom.”

When working from home each everyone will find their own way of being successful staying on task, it just takes trial an error for an individual to find what works for them.

“Purchase a very large PC monitor, 24 inches,” suggested Britt.  “For those who cannot afford a large monitor: make an office. It will keep you more organized and has more of a school setting.”

Although there is a somewhat similar routine in place for those whose have classes that meet on Zoom, but those whose professors have chosen not to hold virtual meetings might have additional trouble getting in the groove of things.

Online classes offer a lot more freedom and self-discipline to the students who take them. For some this is a blessing while for others it’s a curse.

“My advice to anyone who is struggling to maintain focus during this time is to create a schedule and to stick to it,” said Callender. “Be sure to include art, music, decompression and/or exercise to your schedule and to reward yourself when you’re staying on track.”

Whether working from home in the long run ends up being a great experience or a terrible one for students, it’s one that everyone is in together. Be sure to check your e-mail as well as stay active on the 4Cs app to stay in contact with your fellow community and remember that you are not alone.