If Teaching is all Online...Now What?

Seagull and plant


Call it denial or excessive hope, but back in June I convinced myself that by September things would be fine, and I’d be able to return to Glasgow, having some face-to-face teaching, some interaction with friends, and some sense of normality.

Fast forward to October and I am still at home in Cyprus, in my pyjamas, completing my second year of Law School fully online. For those of you who are or might find yourselves in the same position, here are the different stages I went through.

“I really wanted to go to Glasgow sobs”

Yes, it will be disappointing at first.

University is a whole new adventure - it’s about experiencing a new setting, seeing and trying new things, meeting people, and growing both academically and at a personal level.

Fully online learning doesn’t quite offer all these opportunities in the same way. That’s not to say though that it has nothing to offer. It is different, and a bit of a compromise. With time, you move away from disappointment and towards…

“Okay, some things haven’t changed that much”

Lectures -check. Tutorials -check. Interaction with teaching staff - check.

A major concern for me was that online learning would be a bit of a joke; that lecturers wouldn’t bother much, that there would be very few opportunities to discuss matters with academic staff, and that the year would feel like I’m completing a self-paced course. Luckily, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Advisors are still there to help. All the services that the UofG offers, including the Counselling and Psychological Services, are still available in one form or another.

Staying at home while completing a stressful and challenging university course is not always easy. Whether due to distractions, family responsibilities, personal adverse circumstances or other, finding a quiet and safe space to study might be more difficult for some. The University is still here, and more than willing to offer support. Check out the resources available at: Glasgow Anywhere and Counselling and Psychological Services

Academic staff are, in my experience at least, as responsive as they were last year. Live tutorials still provide a great opportunity to talk with your peers and tutors, and really gain a deeper understanding of a topic. The quality of teaching has not dropped.

For socialising, it’s true that there aren’t as many events going on. But societies still offer online events and workshops such as speed-mating sessions, and you still have the opportunity to get involved in societies that interest you to different extents. If you find a society that interests you, send them an email, follow them on social media, and stay on the lookout for any upcoming events.

It’s really easy to feel isolated when you’re stuck at home, but this doesn’t have to inevitably happen. Try and put yourself out there, show your personality and interests, and in the diverse community of UofG students there will most likely be others who share your passions.

For completing work, the university still offers access to resources; journal articles can be accessed via your university account from anywhere, and more e-books and other online resources are added regularly. Indeed, some things have improved, which brings me to…

“Well this is much nicer!”

Law books can be expensive; not an issue this year though since I have access to all the core textbooks I may need online for free.

And if there is a book that I desperately need which is at the UofG Library but not available online, the new Library remote services mean I can request a scan of the chapter I need, which is then sent to my university email. It is also possible to book an online meeting with a College Librarian to ask questions about the Library’s Collections & Services or get help with finding information.

In terms of tutorials, the dreaded 9am classes are much better. No more waking up at 7.30am to catch the Subway train, no more running uphill (ouch my calves!) while it is dark and cold. With online tutorials, you can wake up 10 minutes before class, do your morning routine, and join the call from the comfort of your bed if you choose to. Do try and find a quiet space for tutorials but if you have a small interruption or two it’s not that big of a deal. Guest pet appearances are not the end of the world.

Recorded lectures offer you much more flexibility to arrange your time and allow you to return to a particularly difficult topic multiple times if you feel the need to. Some teaching staff even arrange regular check-in calls to address any questions or concerns students have.

In many ways, student opinion matters even more now. There is more weight attached to student feedback, and a greater willingness to make changes based on students’ wants and needs. It is a learning experience for both teaching staff and students, and the university is more than willing to take negative feedback and righting whatever is not working. At the end of the day…

“We are still Team UofG!”

No matter where we are, we still belong to the UofG community. If you find yourself having to complete a semester or more from home, be reassured that you will have all the support and help you may need. Simply reach out.

First published: 5 November 2020

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