By Pietro Rossini
As the American author, Brian Herbert, said: “The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice,” and the COVID-19 pandemic really challenged this choice. In the middle of the last spring 2020 semester, universities all over the world were overwhelmed by the “new reality” of the pandemic. Wearing facial masks, social distancing, and washing hands have become the new routine for everyone. As a result, each institution had to make a choice regarding how to continue their education. Although education underwent difficulties at the first time of this transition, in my opinion, the best choice was to move education remotely.
At the beginning, I remember that this change was very awkward. Indeed, professors and students were not ready for this shift, but then everybody started to get used to this “new educational environment.” Certainly, the main disadvantage of remote learning is the lack of face-to-face relationships. Students cannot have “small talks” with their peers, and it is very difficult to meet people outside the academic environment.
Pietro on Zoom in one of his first online classes in time of COIVD-19
This is true also in my personal experience. I arrived in the U.S. in the middle of last January, therefore, I had just two months of in-person learning, and that was an important time to meet new friends. I even started hanging out with them, but then the pandemic changed many things: many of my friends were studying English like me, so they came from other countries. Many chose to go back to their home because they were afraid of the lockdown. Others went back to their countries due to their visa status. And finally, others like me chose to stay and to take advantage of this “new reality.”
In fact, there are many advantages of remote learning: I found it helpful to focus one’s attention on the class. Students do not have a lot of distractions as they can spend the whole time of the class improving their skills. After the first time of confusion, teachers became more familiar with online meeting platforms such as Zoom and Blackboard. Through these tools, they can share presentations with students, editable online documents, videos, podcasts, and many other resources just with one click. Learning has become more active and interactive. Everybody has been involved in this work of adaptation to this “new reality.”
How much time we will wait until we will see again a scene like this?
In short, the pandemic has been challenging the college education system worldwide. In the U.S. many universities had to adapt their education format to the “new reality” of the coronavirus. Many institutions turned in-person classes into remote learning. Nobody can compare in-person and remote classes. However, as Charles Darwin said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Our generation of students and professors will “survive” this pandemic if we are be able to adapt to this change that everyone is living in. The pandemic may be either an obstacle or an opportunity, but what really matters is your outlook on it!
Pietro Rossini is a Xaverian Missionary and an ESL student at Framingham State University in Massachusetts. He came to the U.S. in January 2020 with the purpose of studying for a master of arts in journalism at Boston University. His dream is to collect and share stories of humanity around the globe, making the world a single family.