Windsor

UWindsor community sounds off on the pros and cons of online university courses

University of Windsor biomedical sciences professor Lisa Porter told CBC News that although she misses the in-person interactions, online learning seems to have made students more comfortable with asking questions and presenting. Meanwhile, fourth year sociology student Nermeen Khan said it's all going "pretty bad." 

'It doesn't even really feel like I'm in school right now,' says one student

The University of Windsor has pushed its fall and winter semester classes online. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

About a month into classes, professors and students seem to be handling online university courses in very different ways. 

University of Windsor biomedical sciences professor Lisa Porter told CBC News that although she misses the in-person interactions, online learning seems to have made students more comfortable with asking questions and presenting. 

Meanwhile, fourth year sociology student Nermeen Khan said it's all going "pretty bad." 

The University of Windsor is one of many universities across the province that has pushed the majority of its courses online for the fall and winter semester due to the pandemic. Starting in 2021, the university has said it plans on possibly allowing for more in-person interactions pending the progression of COVID-19. 

But for Khan, these changes likely won't apply to her program, meaning she'll spend her final year rarely stepping foot on campus. 

UWindsor sociology student Nermeen Khan says this school year is 'pretty bad,' and that she doesn't really feel like she's even in school. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

"It's really anxiety inducing ... being able to see people, being able to hear people or ask somebody a question, like things that actually make it feel like a class, aren't there, so it's really hard to pay attention," Khan said. 

Though she's in her final year, she said it feels like she's doing a lot of self-teaching. And without her usual study routines, like working in the library, she said it's hard to find the motivation. 

"It doesn't feel real ... like nothing feels real. It doesn't even really feel like I'm in school right now. It just feels like I have to work really hard to motivate myself," Khan said. "[I'm] getting charged more than when sitting in class and the quality of learning doesn't feel anywhere close [to before]."

If there's one positive to come of this, she said she feels as though she can work at her own pace and that professors have been more lenient. 

UWindsor student union president Herman Dayal says he's been gathering feedback from students and updating the university in the hopes that they can continue to make improvements to their online courses. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Disconnect, loss of community 

The university's Student Alliance president Herman Dayal says he's heard a number of concerns from students and has made it a point to bring that feedback to the university. 

"There isn't that same sense of community in terms of, you know, collaboratively working with other students," he said. "It's been an overwhelming challenge at times." 

Porter said she also feels this sense of lost communication and thinks that being online for too long creates a disconnect. 

"It's difficult online to sort of gauge what they're retaining, what they're learning," Porter said. 

Biomedical sciences professor Lisa Porter says she can see there being positives and negatives to the year, but has found that aside from feeling disconnected, students seem to be benefiting in small ways. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

But, she said she can already see the ways in which this transition has been beneficial. 

"I think online the students really are comfortable to ask questions and to be themselves, which I've enjoyed actually a lot," she said, adding that students with speech impediments have told her they do better speaking up in online class and she's found that it's made things easier for students with accessibility needs. 

Despite the pros, she said she doesn't "want to remain like this forever." 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now