Surviving the Pandemic: Online Learning

Welcome to the second post in my “Surviving the Pandemic” blog series.

In this post, I want to discuss online learning – looking at what it’s like for students and young people, as well as parents and teachers.

I graduated from University in June, so luckily I didn’t have to endure too many hours of online learning.

However, I know many people are currently doing their school or University course completely from home – and that must bring with it a new set of lockdown challenges.

In order to understand what online learning is really like, I thought it would be great to hear the experience of some of my lovely followers over on Twitter – including a few tips to make the most of online University.

Get ready to hear the good, the bad and the ugly about surviving online learning!

In this blog post, read the opinions of 6 bloggers about online learning during the pandemic…

Ruthie Loves Glamour

I think online learning sucks, I had online lectures for months – and I wrote my exams online too.

The fact that I am a science student made it even more difficult as I had to do maths and physics online which wasn’t ideal, but it wasn’t too bad.

Subjects that didn’t involve calculations were okay, but taking calculation subjects online is much harder.

Most of my courses are mathematical and require intense calculations and so it wasn’t very fun. Online lectures require more hard work, focus and dedication than normal lectures.

Tash: A Girl With a View

Online university has taken some getting used to – and it’s not been the easiest adjustment.

It can be challenging to stop yourself from getting distracted as it often doesn’t feel like a lecture or working atmosphere as the environment is entirely different from what you’re used to.

Even though it’s been a year, it still feels bizarre to be sat at home watching some talking blobs on screen rather than seeing actual people.

modern laptop with notebooks and pen arranged on bed with coffee pot and cup

However, online learning does have its positives and if you focus and treat it like a normal lecture then you can get just as much out of it.

I find putting my phone away and making notes makes it feel like a much more productive and worthwhile session than if I just sit there browsing other tabs or finding other things to do.

I also like using chat functions or polls, as even if you’re not speaking or are on camera you can still engage and contribute without any pressure- which is great for someone introverted like me!

Suchita Senthil Kumar

Online classes have given me all the leisure I could’ve ever asked for.

If classes started at 9 in the morning, all I had to do was wake up late, take a quick shower, and eat my breakfast as the teacher spoke about bones and muscles. I could fall asleep as and when I pleased.

Amidst all the procrastination I learnt in these last few months, I learnt to respect my teachers.

When we first began classes on Zoom, we had “fake” students who troubled the teachers until they were almost in tears by name-calling, playing loud music, and all kinds of mischief.

What once made the students laugh, now made us sympathise with our teachers. Soon, we shifted to Teams and classes have been better ever since.

I’ve always respected my teachers for who they were but these online classes showed me what they actually go through. My heart goes out to every teacher trying to keep education going.

Georgia: Brit Voyage

As a secondary school teacher, online learning is both torture and a miracle. Our workload is currently doubled, perhaps even tripled.

In some schools, teachers are expected to plan and deliver full, live online lessons for every teaching period.

In others, there’s less pressure for live lessons- but online learning includes the expectation of marking every single piece of work set.

Colleagues of mine are averaging 10 to 12 hour per day, including weekends, which is affecting their mental health.

The most challenging part is feeling as though you can’t truly switch off– I’ve had students email me to ask for help at 3am.

On the other hand, this experience has allowed teachers to find innovative ways to promote independent learning when school returns to ‘normality’.

I’m the coordinator for Personal Development (PSHE) and will definitely include online platforms within my curriculum in the future.

Clair: Specialist Teaching Assistant

Day in the life of a Specialist Teaching Assistant: I rush from one room to another, grabbing my laptop and trying to sign in before the English lesson starts.

The small number of students we teach all have complex needs, mostly autism but ADHD or conduct disorders. Some children are in school and some are at home- and we have to cater for them all.

I start the lesson. ‘Can everyone see the PowerPoint?’ I call into the screen. No cameras, no microphones. The chat box lights up. ‘Miss, we can’t see the PowerPoint’. I try again. It works.

I ask a question but receive a deafening silence in return. ‘Hello, Miss? X is feeling dysregulated so has left the room’ a parent tells me.

Another student mutes and unmutes themselves every 2 seconds. Then leaves the meeting. I’m frantically messaging my colleagues to see about the 2 students, but they are with the ones in school.

I stare into the abyss at my reflection, and realise I’ve got something in my teeth. I make a joke. No-one laughs. Or maybe they do but their mics are off. I continue talking, suddenly very aware of how I sound.

Maybe this is all a waste of time. Maybe we should just abandon live lessons. I’m interrupted. ‘Miss? I can’t see the PowerPoint’. I sigh.

Caroline: Enviroline Blog

I’m a first-year environmental science student and it’s safe to say that online learning has been weird.

I didn’t experience online learning in the previous year because my A-levels were cancelled, so to be thrown in at the deep end has been tough!

I found the first semester of uni incredibly hard because I only had one or two live seminars a week.

All my lectures were just reading a massive chunk of information, writing up the notes, and then doing quizzes at the end of each lecture.

It was hard. I was very unsure of what was going on in the module, how we were being assessed.

In one module, I didn’t realise until near the end of the semester that the quizzes were part of our grade! Luckily, I was doing okay in them, so it didn’t matter too much.

Thankfully, this semester I’ve got live lectures which is so much easier– don’t get me wrong, it’s still mentally exhausting.

But it’s nice to actually see my lecturer. I’m really hoping that I’ll get to go on campus next semester and do lab work etc.

photo of professor teahcing his student online

Thank you so much to all the bloggers who featured in this post!

If you’re currently struggling with online learning, I hope this post has offered some consolation that you are not alone – and maybe even a few tips to stay motivated.

Stay tuned for the third post in this series, where I’ll be talking about health anxiety – what is this form of anxiety? How can we find ways to improve our mental and physical health during these tough times?

Have you experienced online learning from a teaching or learning perspective? What’s your favourite thing about online learning? Do you think it’s better or worse than in-person teaching?

Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

Happy reading x

73 thoughts

  1. Because of how my dyslexia affects me I have to teach myself the content of what I’m studying anyway, so I had to teach myself through both my undergraduate degree and my postgraduate degree. I’ve never had an issue with online learning as that’s how I would have to teach myself anyway, reading journal after journal online until it all makes sense

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, this was such an interesting post! I’m currently in my 2nd year of university so I can totally relate to some of these comments and feelings. At the end of the day we’re all trying our best in the most unprecedented circumstances – I’m so grateful to be able to carry on learning throughout! Thanks for sharing! X

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a great post! Hearing from students and teachers who are having to deal with online learning/teaching is really important. I’m so glad that I’m not a teacher or a student! I have such a huge amount of respect for teachers!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for featuring my answer and it was so interesting to read other people’s responses to online learning too! Thank you for sharing this!

    Tash – A Girl with a View

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It was really interesting reading what each blogger thinks. I have a slightly different opinion from the vast majority solely due to my past educationally. When I went back to college a few years ago, I knew that I couldn’t physically move to the college that I wanted to attend. However, they offered enough online classes that I was able to complete my full diploma online. The only time that I had to show up in person was for final exams. The freedom to do that was great BUT it was a situation where I was CHOOSING to do online learning – I think that makes a huge difference to your mindset going into it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 🙂 It’s brilliant to hear that online learning has made education slightly more accessible for you! I agree, I think it must be hard for those who are forced to learn or teach online, but it definitely makes things more accessible x


  6. This was an interesting post, Eleanor! I haven’t been in school for the last five years, but I get that it can be a lot harder to do everything from home and even harder to study with all the distractions. Thanks for sharing all these experiences x

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very interesting read. Online learning is different for almost everyone. I’ve taken a Johns Hopkins course a few months back and just enrolled in another covid related course. I really can’t imagine doing it full time but there is no choice for many. Thanks for the insights,

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a really helpful and unique post. I will be passing it along to some others who I know are struggling with their online learning. It was really cool how you had other blogger’s opinions on the subject included. I myself was considering taking some online courses, but I have a lot on my plate and I know I would be overwhelmed. If I ever do choose to do so I will refer back here! Bookmarked!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Shyla 🙂 I think it must be so tough for those who are struggling, and I wanted to show how others are also in the same position as a lot of my readers! That’s so good of your Shyla, good luck if you start any courses online x


  9. I’ve done online learning in the past before the pandemic and I actually enjoyed it. I like doing things at my own pace and not having to sit through a long lecture sometimes. I went to post secondary for marketing so I can’t even imagine how to do all the projects remotely! I would pull my hairs out. Thanks for sharing, loved all the features! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I really enjoyed reading this post, Eleanor. With kids coming back to school from 8th March we’re glad to see the end of remote learning, although the experience has been entertaining at times.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s good to hear how different people are coping with the online learning. Not an easy task for students and teachers. Parents are also experiencing difficulties with the young kids during online sessions. This opens a lot of opportunities to improve the system.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This was so interesting to read! I think it’s astonishing how fast you get used to online teaching. I had the last f2f lecture a year ago and it feels like a lifetime ago. I remember how weird everything felt at the beginning and now it’s just “normal”. I’m completely aware that I’m speaking from a privileged position and that a lot of students and teachers are struggling right now. I think this post is really helpful for many!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This was really interesting to read! My best friend is currently doing her last year at uni and I know it’s been a struggle for her these last few weeks. But I think that’s more just staying motivated and she has to do group work (for a design project), but do it remotely? Which for me I would struggle with hugely. But she likes learning from home though, but I guess it’s just trying to find that balance. There are definitely positive and negatives to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Yes that’s very true it’s been so hard on children, teachers, and students alike! I think it’s the social interaction that children lack at home for sure, and with everyone on top of each other in the house it can put a strain on families. Thank you Thomas 🙂


  15. It’s so interesting to read the views of the teachers! Thanks for sharing those. I haven’t done much online learning, but the bits I’ve done were really challenging as it doesn’t fit my learning style. I feel for all the students that have been forced into that option this past year. I can see the benefits of it–like not having to travel to class though!

    Liked by 1 person

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