Learning online, about online learning, during COVID-19

At the tail-end of February, I started a new course in my master’s program. The course was called Development and Implementation of the Curriculum, and the content has a large focus on digital literacy.

When we started the course, we had no idea how important digital literacies would become in such a short timeframe.

Shortly after the course began, COVID-19 hit our communities. Post-secondary institutions across the country moved their classes online to complete the winter term, and for all of the spring/summer term. K-12 classes across the country also moved online. No one knows when we’ll return to face-to-face.

This entire class has been so, so interesting.

A little bit of luck

In some ways, we were lucky. Our program was already online, so in many ways, nothing changed. We were already familiar with Zoom as a videoconferencing tool, with blogging as a means for sharing work, with Slack as a way to communicate. All of those things simply continued. Our assignments and grading didn’t need to change, as they had already been built for online (although our instructor did allow for more flexibility, which was much appreciated!).

We were also lucky to be in a program that had been teaching us about learning online and digital tools- knowledge we were all asked to put into practice real quick!

A different kind of ‘blended’

At no point in my life have school and work been so closely connected. So many times over the past few months, I’ve had to stop and ask myself whether I was reading something for school, for work, or for general interest. Often, the question didn’t really have an answer. Or, the answer was both/all.

After I hosted a Pet CafĂ© that got Zoombombed, I wrote a blog post about it. I wrote the post as a way to share the story of what happened and warn others; initially, I wasn’t writing it with my course in mind, although it was very related. It ended up being the blog post I submitted for grading.

As part of a group project, my project partner and I completed Athabasca’s MOOC, Learning to Learn Online, with the goal of evaluating how the course taught digital literacies. Simultaneously, I used the MOOC to help shape the content I was creating in my online pre-arrival program to teach new students about online learning.

Part of the group project required that we create some sort of video related to our topic (which for us, focused on the digital literacies online learners need to be successful). In my pre-arrival program, I wanted to showcase online learning advice from current students. So we made a video that does exactly that. It’s a part of the pre-arrival program, and we were able to submit it as our assignment.

In so many ways, this blending was very useful and helpful. It was a direct and immediate application of what we were learning in class. But admittedly, since I always seemed to be immersed in course-related learning, sometimes I would forget to pay attention to what that week’s class was actually focusing on. Oops.

Always in the same place

One of the things I think I struggled most with in this course, as a result of COVID-19, was that I felt like I was spending all my time at my desk, on my computer. And it wasn’t just a feeling; I quite literally was. I would get up in the morning and “go to work” at the desk in my bedroom. I would head to the kitchen for lunch, then return to the desk in the bedroom. I would end my work day, head back to the kitchen for dinner, and then come back to the desk in my bedroom and start doing schoolwork. Sometimes I would take my computer and sit on my bed, but even then, the bed is about three feet away from the desk. There was no office to spend my day in, no library or coffee shop to visit to do some schoolwork. I was in the same place, doing seemingly the same thing, all the time. It was hard to stay focused, hard to want to work, and very easy to procrastinate.

Let’s not do this again

I really did like this course. I like that we had the opportunity to create a meaningful video. I like that I had to chance to co-write an e-book. The content was applicable and timely, and we were able to mold it to our current circumstances.

But I’m not sure I would choose to repeat the last few months!

Featured image by Maya Maceka on Unsplash

Nicole Crozier

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top