By Tyra Patterson, University of Illinois at Chicago student
When I started my final semester as a University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) senior, I did not foresee my life would be shaken with such vigor.
I envisioned that my last semester would go down in celebration with my peers, as we embarked on the end of an era and the beginning of a new one.
Instead, my travel plans were halted, and my spring break was expanded. I acknowledged I could not travel in such a detrimental time and knew that my time to see the world would be made possible at a more optimal and carefree time.
As I relaxed in my dorm room with only the internet to entertain me, I realized that the next few weeks after spring break would truly test my resilience to online learning. I must admit, my attitude on the first few days of online classes seemed more cynical than anything. On the first day of online class using Blackboard Collaborate, my professor split up the class into groups. The first thing to come out of our mouths was laughter from the trauma of not knowing how to deal with such a change of events. All the members of the group, including me, knew that it would get easier, but at that moment in time, we dealt with our strange experiences in the best way we knew how — laughter.
Within a few days of troubleshooting and Zoom meetings, I was on my way to finishing my virtual semester with confidence. I started to adapt to a new routine of self-quarantine. I would wake up to my alarm and join my morning Blackboard Collaborate lectures while eating microwaved instant oatmeal in the comfort of my bed. I learned that online class has its positives, and being extra cozy 24/7 was one of them.
One thing that has been a challenge for me with online learning is keeping up with deadlines and online assignments. Time management has always been one of my better skills; however, taking classes in virtual environments has changed the time management game for me. Google Calendar has become my best friend to combat becoming overwhelmed. How could anyone top a virtual friend that reminds them they’re running late to their 3 p.m. online film lecture?
Overall, I have had a great experience with adapting to online classes and my professors have done a great job at trying to maintain the same quality of their classes. I am very appreciative to faculty, especially for being patient and understanding that school will not be the same. By making online readings more relevant to our current lifestyle, hosting Zoom office hours, and making more virtual interactive projects, my professors have put an entertaining, yet educational, spin on learning.
School may not be the same, but the sense of community at UIC has grown in a whole new way.