5 August 2020
It is safe to say that digital learning took universities, lecturers and students across the UK by storm. Luckily, ARU has plenty of online resources available, such as the online library, lecture notes and videos on Canvas.
The utmost valuable aspects of zoology include laboratory, practical and field work. Despite no-one knowing quite what digital learning meant, it was evident that these valuable qualities could become inaccessible. I was worried, but I was ready to adapt to this new learning experience.
I believe it was difficult for everyone involved to begin with. I personally felt in the dark about my exams and lonely completing my assignments. But, as everyone began to settle in with this new way of life, it slowly became easier. Our lecturers had great communication with their students. I started to enjoy turning up to my Zoom sessions, still in bed, pyjamas on with unbrushed teeth. Although staying in bed until the afternoon was great at times, I found that digital learning requires a lot of willpower, self-encouragement and an organised timetable. Going digital didn’t mean life was about to get simpler!
My top tip: I found that making a list of achievable aims to complete during the day helped me stay on track with my uni work, whilst also making myself feel productive.
The uncertainty of my practical exam caused me a great deal of unease. Our wonderful and proactive lecturer informed us that the exam was going to be the same format as we had been taught, however there would be photos rather than 3D specimens, which we previously could handle. This was obviously not ideal, but it was the best case scenario in this situation. I could not be more grateful for our really organised lecturer. Due to completing previous computer-based assessments, the online exams were not too dissimilar and so I felt comfortable and prepared with this setup.
Overall, I began to really enjoy online learning. It was difficult not seeing my classmates and the experience has taught me that the face-to-face time with lecturers is something I plan to make the most of when things go back to normal. I think digital learning becomes easier with time, as both students and lecturers got used to ‘the new normal’ the communication flowed. I am confident that ARU is going to be prepared for online learning for the uncertain future. Lecturers feel determined to get their best out of their students, even if it means Zoom meetings every day. But, I also can’t wait to go back to studying in the field and labs.