Since COVID-19 started, schools were shifted to online learning, which was new to many students. It was hard for professors and teachers to get used to the new teaching and learning system. Many students’ mental health has been negatively affected during the online learning mode while some students are still having trouble getting used to it. Even though there are some advantages to online learning, there are more disadvantages overall that many students are facing, so we need to come up with good solutions to make online learning better for everyone.
Effect on Mental Health
Many students were upset because of the sudden lockdown and learning being shifted to online. Healio stated, “University students who experienced lockdowns due to COVID-19 exhibited a high prevalence of mental health issues.” It describes how young adults were struggling more mentally and are less likely to seek help. Some had severe stress, high levels of anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts. Because of the lockdown, classes were transitioned to online and students had to spend most of their time at home, which created difficulties for them to continue their classes. Even though some students did have some online classes experience, the whole semester being online prevented lack of in person classroom relationships. Working with other people and socializing with them in the classroom is a different experience that students enjoy. The State News shared the experiences that students faced during their online classes. One of the students said, “Doing the online class by myself was more stressful than if I was in an in person class and made my mental health harder to take care of.” Students experience more challenges because of the increased screen time, not being able to move around much, increased fatigue, headaches, and anxiety about understanding their work, which really impacted them mentally. The feeling of isolation, not being able to meet friends and families, put even more stress on students, especially for students whose families were out of state/country and whose flights were cancelled. Uncertainty about the future is a big thing that really stresses them out as young adults who are working on making their careers.
Trouble With Online Learning
Students are facing many different problems in this difficult time. One of the problems is lack of motivation and time management. Since most professors record their lectures, students tend to listen to them whenever they feel like it instead of being present at the original time of the lecture. This has caused many students to become lazier and develop ineffective time management. Some students still face technical issues because they may have poor internet or no device at all to do their work at. Also, they face many more distractions because some students don’t have privacy or a quiet place to work at their home. When they are at school, they have so many places to go to where they can silently study and work, but at home, it is hard to do that. Understanding course expectations is also another struggle that many students face because not everyone is used to working full-time online. Some students need to hear things face to face or communicate with their professors and peers to better understand the material. Not everyone is a technology person, so some students are having difficulty adapting to it. In addition, when you are at school, there are more resources available to use and tutoring for help, but being online, these resources are limited because professors are still trying to figure out how to transfer them online. Online learning also decreases the chances of students building up the skills necessary for them, such as improving their confidence, communication skills, and group/teamwork. Overall, every student is facing some sort of problem during this time, including professors who are trying to deliver the material as best as they can because even some professors are not used to online teaching. In addition, not everyone’s parents are available or are good at technology to help their children stay motivated and guide them, which puts everything on the student alone. When they are at school, teachers are able to help them and push them through things they are having difficulties with. Being online is mostly being independent, which puts more responsibility on the students, and many students are not used to this.
Are There Advantages for Everyone?
There are some pros to online learning, but it is still more burdensome than good for many students. Online learning has added more flexibility to people’s schedules. Driving to school every day takes up time, especially when there is traffic and by the time you come home, you are already tired. With online learning, many people are saving their time from not having to wake up earlier to commute and finding parking at their school. This gives them more time to catch up on their sleep or study before their exam, instead of spending that time on commuting. Even though for many people, time management is a difficult skill during this period because of lack of motivation, some people have actually improved on it. They get to spend more time on things they want to accomplish during the day. Also, it forces students to develop certain skills if they want to be successful in their classes, such as self-studying, self-motivation, and self-discipline; they realize that they have to get used to this in order to succeed. However, these advantages do not work for everyone. Many students are used to face to face interaction for their whole school life and this sudden change is really hard for them to adapt to. In addition, there are more chances of academic dishonesty when students are not being watched, which is putting them in a dangerous spot and lowering their chances of actually learning the material themselves. Many students are in a rush to get their work done, but they are not really learning. Even though there are some benefits of online learning, overall, there are more cons that many students are facing, which requires improvements to help them succeed.
Solutions to Improve Online Learning
In order to improve online learning, professors need to continue to do live lectures so that students know that they must attend the lecture. The lecture could be recorded in case they want to listen to it again, but professors need to continue doing class activities that are graded, so students are less likely to miss lectures and stay motivated. Schools and universities should also offer laptops for students who do not have one to borrow, so they can also work easily on their assignments/exams. Also, professors should still do group work even if it’s online, so students still get to work and communicate with their peers; this will make them feel better and give them some socialization. In addition, professors need to continue to do their office hours online, so if students need advice or have any concerns, they get to make an appointment and communicate with the professors to ask any questions. We do not know how long this problem will stay, but coming up with good solutions that ease the struggles of students will be very helpful and make learning easy.