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Flavia's Story: What is Online Learning Really Like?

By Flavia
What_is_online_learning_like_for_university_students

For current and prospective students, university has become filled with lots of unknowns. If you want to know what the day-to-day life of a student during Covid-19 is like, read our latest blog from undergraduate student Flavia.

I am Flavia, a final year student studying Food and Human Nutrition at Newcastle University. I hope you are keeping safe and healthy in these unprecedented times.

Just like everyone else at the moment, I am sure the pandemic has greatly affected you somehow, whether it is mentally or physically. In this blog, I will be going through some aspects of online learning and my first-hand experiences.

 

How did you feel about a new term of blended learning?

As I am an international student, I flew back to my home country about a month after university closed their doors back in mid-March.

I was quite lost and confused at first, I didn’t know whether we would be getting the same quality as if we were to attend face-to-face.

I have also decided to spend my first semester working remotely, so it is all online for me! Just like everyone else, I really didn’t know what to expect through online learning, I had only heard from friends studying in other countries what is it like.

I was quite lost and confused at first, I didn’t know whether we would be getting the same quality as if we were to attend face-to-face. I was also pretty dejected that I had to spend my final year at home, but I tried to stay positive and think of the bright side.

 

How has your degree’s blended learning style impacted teaching on your course? 

Even though I am a Nutrition student, my final year doesn’t consist of any lab work, so I'm not really missing out. This was a big part of my decision to stay home for this term. Most of my lectures are now pre-recorded, so lecturers record their voices with the slides they are talking about, and I listen to them in my own time whilst taking notes.

Seminars are still held live through Zoom, since they are meant to be more interactive. 

 

How have you found online learning so far, and do you have any in-person sessions?

None of my lectures, seminars or tutorials are held in person, since the start of the semester. Even though most of my lectures are pre-recorded, some are still held live through Zoom.

Usually after lectures, if there is something I still do not understand, I stay back and ask my lecturer. Now however, there is the chat option in Zoom, so you just have to type in your question. 

To be honest, online lectures are not so much different from in-person ones. It’s literally listening to your lectures talk through their PowerPoint slides while you are there typing or writing your notes.

The only difference is that you are not inside a lecture theatre or sitting with your course mates. The difference shouldn’t matter too much, because your sole reason to listen to a lecture is to study not to chit-chat with your friends.

Usually after lectures if there is something I still do not understand, I stay back and ask my lecturer. Now however, there is the chat option in Zoom,  so you just have to type in your question.

 

Do you have much 1 to 1 time with teachers or tutors? 

There are obviously lesser 1 to 1 sessions with teachers because we don’t really stay back to ask questions face-to-face, but it isn’t a problem at all because we are able to ask questions in Zoom chat.

With tutors, there is actually a similar amount of 1 to 1 time compared to normal. 

Since I am a final year student, I have to start preparing for my dissertation. The school contacted us about two weeks before the official start of university which gave us a lot of time to mentally prepare and arrange meetings with our supervisors. 

 

What are the benefits and downsides to blended learning?

There are obviously benefits to online learning. For example, I can go to class from the comfort of my chair and pyjamas, without having to walk in the 5°C air for a 9am class.

Besides that, lectures are pre-recorded, so it is completely up to me when I want to listen to them.

Unfortunately, with benefits, there are downsides as well. 

Downsides include the atmosphere you get listening to a lecture in a lecture theatre, the time difference between UK and my home country. There are also distractions - like browsing through social media - when listening to an online lecture.

 

Are you using the university facilities to help you? 

As I have a dissertation to submit next year, I have been using the university library’s website to look for textbooks and databases for journals.

Since I am also unable to come to campus and use the computer facilities, I have been making use of the Microsoft Remote Desktop application which lets me use applications on the school computer without even physically being there!

 

Describe your experience of blended/online learning at Newcastle in 3 words. 

If I were to describe my online learning experience in three words, I would go with new, relaxing, and convenient.  

 

How would you describe your experience overall?

I was quite sad and lost at first when it came to online learning,  but it isn’t as bad as you might think, so relax! Online learning is convenient in a lot of ways and after a few weeks you will get used to it - I promise.  

Starting university after a four month break wasn't easy. However, the school took time to prepare inductions and activities for both new students and returnees to help us get into the swing of things.

I was quite sad and lost at first when it came to online learning,  but it isn’t as bad as you might think, so relax! Online learning is convenient in a lot of ways and after a few weeks you will get used to it - I promise.  

If you are thinking about joining the university in Fall 2021, there is no reason not to, just because learning is online. I guarantee you will not be missing out! I hope that this blog of mine has given you a rough idea of what online learning is, and what it feels like.

You can find more information in our blog, what is online learning. If you have any other questions about studying online and how university works at the moment, you will find answers to all of your questions on our FAQs page

Application Checklist 2021 - Prospects

Tags: Undergraduate, Student Stories, UG Pre-Application, UG Post-Application