The Pros of Distance Learning

The University of Phoenix became the first institution to launch a fully online collegiate institution that offered both bachelors and master’s degrees in 1989. According to the United States Department of Education, 15.7% of American postsecondary students took exclusively distance education courses in 2017. Distance learning is not a new concept.

 

However, as a Colorado College student, I never chose distance learning. Like millions of American students, professors, and teachers, compulsory distance learning chose me when it was borne out of the coronavirus epidemic. Because of my lack of choice in the matter as well as my impulse to complain about it, I’ve been trying to seek the pros of this unexpected situation since I logged into my first class on March 30th.

 

I observed the first benefit of taking classes online before my first class had even started. I had woken up late, just three minutes before I was supposed to log in to my class Zoom session, and I panicked briefly before quickly realizing that waking up late on the first day of class is no longer the usual hassle. I tied my hair into a knot, sat up in bed, and logged on perfectly on time. Wow! What a concept!

 

In all seriousness, I have observed more meaningful distance learning benefits. Because I am an English major, my classes often contend with emotionally-charged subject matters like racism, trauma, abuse, sexism, homophobia, and impoverishment. As a result, some classes can become tense, uncomfortable, and/or overwhelming for some students. While taking an online class, students can discreetly manage their emotions off-camera if necessary.

 

In my experience, the option that online classes give to listen without being watched can increase students’ comfort and therefore foster more dynamic, effective conversations. Online classes allow students to remain in a comforting space while discussing difficult topics, whereas in-person classes require students to manage their emotions because students are locked into a physical space with their peers. I think there were moments when I spoke up in my last class because I was able to compose myself off-camera, moments when I would not have spoken up in person.

 

My classmates, my professor, and I are practicing social distancing, so we are more likely to see email, text message, Canvas, and GroupMe notifications. It has been resultingly easier to contact my professor or a classmate if I need to discuss anything class-related.

 

All that said, I’m not going to pretend like I think this is the ideal situation for me. Many of the qualities of Colorado College that drew me to the school are impossible to translate to online learning. I thrive off physically being in my small classes, seeing my friends around campus, and meeting professors for coffee or for a meal at their house with my classmates. However, I recognize that social distancing and distance learning have to be the reality for everyone right now, and I do not think that complaining about a situation over which no one has control is productive. For now, all we can do is try our best to adapt to the circumstances and wait for normalcy’s return.

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Molly Seaman

I am a young poet, copy editor, and social media marketing specialist with an interest in any career that will allow me to use my abilities with words and with people in order to effect positive change in the daily lives of others. So far, this interest has mostly led me to pursue marketing and NGO work. I was lucky enough to secure a job as the Social Media Intern for Colorado College's Communications Department in 2018, where I learned how to market the school I loved so much through social media and internet journalism under the guise of Writer and Social Media Manager Laurie Laker. I started NGO work in April 2018 when I was offered an opportunity to copy edit the monthly newsletters of Indonesian microcredit organization PPMK (Empowering Women to Fight Poverty). Reading about the important work PPMK completes every month of the year as I copy edited incited me to pursue NGO work more comprehensively. I have been working with Capital Sisters International since November of 2019, where I strive to build the non-profit’s social media presence from scratch. Founder and Chief Executive Officer Patricia Foley Hinnen, the organization's donors, and the hardworking female clients from all over the world constantly inspire me to challenge myself, to endure, and to champion women. Starting Summer 2020, I will be working with Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains Refugee & Asylee Programs as the Employment Services Intern. I am able to accept this opportunity thanks to Colorado College’s Summer Internship Funding Award. I will focus on Job Development at Lutheran Family Services, which will entail negotiating with employer partners to ensure employment opportunities for the organization’s refugee and asylees clients. I am beyond thrilled about the opportunity to work with clients in-person and to work for another organization whose cause I adamantly support. I will graduate from Colorado College in May 2021 with a B.A. in English/Creative Writing/Poetry and Minors in French Language and The Book (book arts, history of the book, book structure). I am working on writing and publishing a poetry anthology for my thesis. This poetry anthology will be written partly in French and partly in English, and the thesis will be a physical handmade book completed at Colorado College’s Press using a letterpress and letterpress-like techniques/materials.

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