Photo Credit: Scott Graham (via Unsplash)
Before the pandemic arose, many of us had never experienced online learning to the extent that we now practice it. The closer we get to the light at the end of this proverbial tunnel, the more we are bound to wonder about the future. How will the rest of our lives be affected by this experience with COVID-19? When our time in isolation becomes a memory, and we return to our everyday lives, what permanent changes will have occurred? What will mark the evident change in the global perspective on social gatherings?
In terms of Memorial University, staff and students are required by necessity to learn how to operate completely independent of in-person gatherings. After a year of connecting through the internet, we should all be adept at performing the duties needed to learn and teach from a distance. Some of us have enjoyed this transition – others not so much. The most glaring question concerning post-pandemic academic activity is the following: Will online work continue after concerns of Covid-19 have passed? If so, to what extent?
Lately, the MUN administration has been making attempts to return staff to campus. In light of the recent outbreaks, these plans are postponed indefinitely. Many members of the staff expressed their displeasure and discomfort with the idea of returning to campus. Perhaps this is because the pandemic is still ongoing, but what if staff prefer to work from home after the pandemic? Will snow days become a thing of the past for employees who have experience working from their home computers?
I can speak for myself as a student with tendencies towards introversion. I most definitely prefer to learn from the comfort of my own home. When we return to on-campus classes I plan to continue to take every opportunity for online learning. I believe that courses that involve laboratory work will not be offered online except in dire circumstances. Any courses that I take that don’t have these restrictions, however, I will be taking online if possible.
The benefit of this detour into online learning is that many courses that didn’t have the infrastructure for online coursework now have been adjusted to accommodate distance learning. This means that after the pandemic, these courses will now have the option of being offered online – whether or not MUN chooses to take advantage of these new developments.
Ideally, considering our universal experience with online work, it will become more prevalent as a convenient alternative to in-person work. In the past, it has been made clear that showing up to class on-campus and interacting socially with your professors and classmates is the ideal way of things. However, some students are more comfortable, and less stressed when they are working from home. Online learning translates to a better university experience for certain students. What is the harm in offering to continue online courses to the extent that we offer them now?
The general public appears to assume that all people are extroverts who benefit from being in close contact with others and physically attending events. For us introverts, attending university from home and working from the comfort of familiar surroundings is a blessing in disguise. I think that continuing to accommodate students and staff who wish to work from home would be a positive change for the university.
It is obvious that even when we reach the end of this period of mass isolation, life, as we knew it before the pandemic, will never be quite the same. To dismiss the idea of continuing to work from home would be foolish. Right now, most people are consumed with the idea that we have to return to “normal” and that we must transition back into society as before. I am willing to challenge that on behalf of all introverts with a resounding “What if we prefer things this way?”