OPINION: Thoughts on the current educational format from an easily distracted student


Davis Cobb, Correspondent

I’ve never considered myself the most social of people; I don’t do the best with large crowds, and while some people prefer to spend their weekend nights partying I’d much rather snuggle up with at most a couple of good friends and a movie or game.

With the university deciding to keep the social distancing guidelines strict on campus, a lot of my professors this semester have had to change up how their classes are done, many of them alternating class periods between attending in person and attending virtually on Zoom. Some go even further and allow students to attend their in-person days on Zoom, something I’m noticing a lot of my fellow students are doing and something I’ve done a bit myself; being home before 6 just feels better than still being stuck at class then.

While a part of me is happy with this change of pace—I get to sleep in a lot more and only have to go through the morning process of getting ready for classes once a week now—I’m noticing that being instructed mostly online has its problems as well.

Online classes in general have always been a mixed bag for me. Since they typically work on a weekly format with all of their assignments being due by the end of each week, it gives you what feels like a larger deadline to get those assignments done; you can put them off and take care of the things that need doing now instead, then come back to the other tasks when you have a free moment. But that mindset is unfortunately a double-edged sword, as it can often lead to me procrastinating the assignment a little too much, and then rushing to finish everything at once when the weekend—and the deadline—hits. And as we all know, a rushed product is never a good one; not only is my performance not as good as it could be, I also won’t retain the information as well due to having tried to cram it all in at once.

I’m noticing that’s beginning to happen with all of my classes, now that everything is so focused on things being virtual. I always tune in for class time as scheduled, but convincing myself to work on assignments has become a struggle; the illusion of all this extra time convinces me it doesn’t need to get done right this second, and that I can do it later. Those assignments always get done before they’re due, but unnecessary stress and anxiety will probably end up being involved

That procrastination is further fueled by something else that’s starting to come to my attention. The apartment I live in also has all of my biggest distractions; my phone, my tv, my game consoles, all there and drawing my attention away from things that should be getting done. I’m absolutely willing to call myself out on this, but I’ve been getting a lot more distracted since the format change. Even on days I tell myself I need to get an assignment done, I won’t actually begin working on it until the late afternoon or even after night falls due to just being pulled away from so many things. I’m ashamed to admit that there’s been a couple of times I’ve been distracted during lectures. Wasting that time also makes it hard to do some other activities for myself that I planned for and now don’t have the time to do, like spending time with friends or brushing up on my art skills.

I know the last note is absolutely my fault, and there are very easy ways to overcome these problems, but I can’t help but wonder if this is an issue a lot of other students are having. Many people learn better when they can directly interact with their fellow classmates and their teacher, and due to this change they’ve lost that opportunity; in no way am I saying this is the wrong decision, as I think it is much smarter to keep students safe during this crisis. Shoving a bunch of students together into classrooms in the middle of a pandemic does not seem like a wise choice by any stretch of the word, but going entirely virtual feels like a shell of the educational experience on both ends. I suppose, though, until this pandemic is over, we’ll have to make do with this format the best we can.