“Unprecedented times” is one of the most popular phrases associated with the COVID pandemic. It is challenging to look beyond what is in an effort to see what could be in a pandemic. How can such dark clouds carry a silver lining?
Speaking with some students from different MacEwan University departments, we were pleased to see the poise and positivity with which they have handled the unfortunate circumstances of the pandemic.
“My experience with COVID as a student gave me the chance to practice time management. It took away some experiences of face-to-face learning, but it made available other practices which can be applied in our daily lives” says Hanna Barcia, a psychology major at MacEwan University. Despite initial struggles at the start of the semester, Barcia likes the idea of working at her own pace. “My school stuff does not clash with my personal life anymore as I have more flexible time,” says Barcia, who has a planned family trip to the Philippines this year. With the new system in place, Barcia, like the rest of us, can take school with her wherever she goes. She adds that although the pandemic prevented a traditional university experience, the instructors’ availability whenever she emailed them helped her a lot. “Everything was accessible and easy to find,” says Barcia.
Similarly, Michael Pinili from the MacEwan business management program finds that there are advantages to schooling online. “Two of these advantages are location and time flexibility. For instance… students that live far away from the campus would be able to save money from the expenses of relocating to a nearer city or neighbourhood to attend school. (In reference to) time, flexibility would be the essence of students being able to budget time and complete schoolwork at a convenient hour,” says Pinili. Also, Pinili considers the ability to manage time and pace oneself beneficial and hopes institutions “analyze what worked and (what did) not during the online learning environment and implement this data to the new term.” He believes doing this will be suitable for both faculty and students.
Perhaps it is not only institutions that stand to benefit from this new normal that has resulted from the COVID pandemic; our ecosystem may also benefit from our misfortune. Second-year bachelor of communications student Satchel Petrov unknowingly pointed out this benefit when she said, “I wasn’t a fan of printing out essays and making sure I had a rough copy and the printed copy that I could hand in.” Like several students, Petrov struggled with the transition to online learning. “It became really hard to keep a routine when going to class was in the same place I got out of bed… it’s harder for me to learn when I don’t have peers around to check my understanding,” he says. With these challenges came the blessings of easily handing in assignments via email or Blackboard, saving the students some stress and saving our planet.
Another thing oddly saved by the pandemic is GPAs. While many students look forward to a time when we can get back to learning in classrooms, some, like journalism major Grace Girard, testify to better grades. “I would say my grades are a lot higher, which is amazing,” says Girard. In addition to having better grades, Girard boasts of participating more in classes because of the chat function that allows students to interact without interrupting lectures. When stating all the silver linings attached to the pandemic, Girard mentions saving time and money on commuting and meeting new people. “I’m actually meeting more students in my program through this online than I did in person,” says Girard.
The transitions to online learning by institutions due to the pandemic were challenging for everyone, but a sub-community that undeniably suffered is the school athletes. “I think a big part of it was I was in school mainly to play volleyball, so it was pretty disappointing when everything got switched online,” says Sarah McGee, a MacEwan University volleyball team member. How can someone like McGee find a silver lining to the pandemic? “I do like the idea of hybrid… I think it was just nice being able to do things at my own pace. Sometimes get ahead on stuff when it wasn’t even due,” she says. Like others, McGee enjoys having access to course materials online and working at her own pace, a tool that can prove helpful for athletes if retained post-pandemic.
According to Mariah Bereziuk, who also plays on the MacEwan volleyball team, school athletes maintain a hectic schedule. “We basically make our schedule from like 8[am] to 3:30 (p.m.]) because we have practice from 4 (p.m.) on almost every night,” says Bereziuk. Like other athletes, she can’t wait for things to get back to normal. Especially after having everything put on hold right after MacEwan University made the playoffs for the first time since switching from the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) to their current league, USports. However, like teammate McGee, Bereziuk “likes the asynchronous model of learning (and) prefers it over live lectures.”
If athletes can find a silver lining in the clouds of the COVID pandemic, we can do it too. So, in the words of Pinili, we urge you to “stay strong, time will pass, and everything (will) be alright.”
Image courtesy of rawpixel.