Now that we’ve been distance learning for quite a few months, I thought I’d take the time to look at some of its silver linings. Hopefully, we can work towards retaining these 5 positive aspects even when we go back to learning fully on-site again!
Student representatives: please carry the baton forward. Programme and course directors, I’m looking at you <3
1. Open-book Exams
What I really love about open-book and online exams is that we get to use any resources and aids we like. Living in a world where the internet allows us access to information at our fingertips, it’s a relief to see the focus change to being able to think critically and use the information you find rather than memorizing it.
Even when we move back to campus again, it would be a step forward to allow internet access or study aids into the exam halls.
2. Recorded Lectures
Whilst lectures that are only recorded and never offered live don’t top my favourites list, I’m a strong proponent of making lectures recordings of the live lectures available to students afterwards. The advantages are numerous. To name a few:
- Easier revision and note-taking
- Schedule flexibility
- Accommodation for mental and physical health
- Being able to re-watch if you didn’t understand something
From personal experience, they were an absolute godsend in my Tissue Biology course, especially when we had a cumulative 5-6 hours of listening to someone talk about the features of microscopy slides. They were really cool and interesting, but my retention rate was significantly higher when I rewatched those lectures and properly annotated the slides.
3. Commuting is optional
Whilst I cannot personally claim that my commute is particularly long or bothersome, I know that many people are glad that much of campus teaching is optional because of the drop in commute time. Not having to think about long commutes frees up surprising amounts of mental space, energy, and time to dedicate to something more enjoyable or meaningful to you.
Not to mention, it’s a lot kinder on the wallet—and for those of us who suffer from intense menstrual cramps, migraines, and other health issues, the option to attend class from home often means one less class missed.
4. The effort to make classes more interactive
With the advent of “teaching to black screens” in online classes, I’ve seen a marked increase in the amount of effort some teachers and lecturers put into making the class participate in some way. Quizzes seem to the most popular option, and I really like them because they reduce the risk of monotony or tiredness kicking in.
Plus, it’s fun! It ensures active listening and recall, and I find that lectures are less likely to blend together in my head if I am asked to actively participate.
5. Asking questions is easier
The chat function in Zoom allows me to ask questions in the moment without disrupting the lecturer’s flow. It’s honestly a great feature. I tend to lose track of my questions unless I jot them down, and they used to lose relevance by the time we had a break so I just never end up asking a lot of them.
With the chat function though, I can just text my questions and they’ll pop up un-intrusively on the lecturer’s screen, and they can then get back to me whenever convenient.
There are lots of other positives of distance learning I’ve heard from my friends and classmates…
- Not disrupting class if you’re late
- Pyjamas all day, every day
- Not having to pack lunches
- Customizable work environments, noise levels, etc.
- You can mutter your thoughts to yourself without bothering others
- Saving money on coffee on campus
- And more <3
The transitions between campus and distance learning might be tricky to navigate, but I think that we have a lot to learn from the experience. We’re been catapulted into drastic digitalisation, and it’s up to us to make the best of it.
If you’re having trouble with distance learning, want some learning tips, or are wondering what to expect, go check out the KI website’s page on distance learning. It includes lots of great resources including blogs and videos from other digital ambassadors!
As always, you can find me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello, Inika here. I’m a third-year Biomedicine bachelor’s student at KI. I'm from India and a little bit from Sweden. As a Digital Ambassador Blogger, I'll be writing about my programme, things happening in and around KI, and giving insights into university life.