It’s time we face it: online courses are more work

With an increasing amount of coursework and limited social contract, online learning has made our academics more difficult

Who hasn’t ever felt buried under an endless pile of overdue assignments, readings, and video lectures to watch? Maybe it’s not your bad study habits but the fact there is more school work to do now that courses are online.

Work for online courses doesn’t feel like studying at all, rather it’s just a matter of completing assignments continuously adding up. Professors have substituted the active learning we used to have with an excessive amount of written materials, extra readings, and numerous out-of-class activities. It seems like eClass has the same autofill capacity as drink machines: the minute you finish one assignment, two more will appear to ruin the day.

This excessive workload makes the transition harder for first year students. Although they can’t compare online university with in-person courses, they know this cannot be a normal workload — it simply seems unreal. 

Online learning requires more effort and responsibility — indeed it is harder to concentrate while studying at home, now that you don’t have your classmates beside you to chat with or ask what is going on. It has also become a lot more difficult to get help understanding a topic, so students end up teaching themselves most of the class content. This takes away motivation and makes you believe you are on your own, introducing more problems of academic endurance and concentration. You can easily get distracted in the middle of a video lecture, and have to replay the video more than once until you finally understand the topic. Video lectures also make you feel as if you need to get your notes perfect; word for word, concept for concept.

There are students who are in different time zones, which becomes a big issue since we still have to attend synchronous lectures. Adjusting your schedule to a different time zone already implies more work. The lack of a structured schedule makes it harder to succeed, and sticking to a fixed schedule is a challenging task already.

Being at home doesn’t necessarily mean having more time to do schoolwork — the day is still 24 hours long and we have the same needs, so getting a considerably less amount of free time is rather discouraging. 

Now, students have to rely 100 per cent on Gmail and eClass, constantly checking the deadlines in case their professor changed anything. Professors post several Q&A and discussion forums on eClass, and with lecture materials coming up constantly, your email gets bombarded and temption to turn notifications off goes up. Getting lots of emails is not only distracting, but it buries important emails somewhere under useless notifications.

Apart from that, we also have to deal with technical issues, such as the internet dropping suddenly in the middle of a live lecture, or at 11:58 p.m. when you are about to submit an assignment due at 11:59 pm.. Constant Zoom meetings sap student’s energy, as we spend all day in front of the computer makes our eyes tired. Eventually, this makes us feel exhausted without knowing why. Listening to a computer talk all day long seems unreal, which makes schoolwork more tedious. 

Even sitting down on your desk all day long can be a really demanding task!

While we already miss campus because there is nothing better than taking in-person classes, having more work now that school has moved online is just another reason to want to go back. With the amount of work increasing day by day, we have now got to the point of not being able to give ourselves even a small break, just as if school is now on top of student’s mental health, which is scary and exhausting.

With the University announcing winter semester will be primarily online, it seems that this online learning nightmare will be here long-term. Don’t we deserve a break?

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