'Really easy to feel alone': Ontario university students struggle with online learning during COVID
OTTAWA -- Students are giving online learning a failing grade, according to a new poll released this week.
The poll of 2,700 people was commissioned by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA). It suggests that 62 per cent of students and 76 per cent of faculty and academic librarians believe online learning has had a negative impact on education quality.
Jasmine Normand is in her first year of law school at the University of Ottawa.
"My anxiety is way worse, just because of the pressure of doing school," said Normand. "On average I am doing 50 hours of school a week... on top of being a mom of three."
She says say it is hard to follow online lectures.
"Everyone is in this situation and most of us are struggling and I am one of those. Often I am overwhelmed and I don’t want to do it anything. But I have to keep pushing."
Students like Gwynn MacIntosh, a third year student at Carleton University, say it is isolating, tough to get clarification or ask questions in class. McIntosh says, "It is lonely. It is just me in my room. I am missing out on the back and forth, and the dialogue between students, for an anthropology student, it is really important."
The survey found that financial security, care demands, and work-life balance are significant stress points.
Gillian Phillips is a professor in the English department at Nipissing University and past president with OCUFA. She says loss of human connection and lack of support is affecting how students learn.
"We all accept that it is better to be still going to classes online that no classes at all, we are glad we can step into this gap, but in the long term, this is a real wake up call for politicians and universities," said Phillips.
"Online education across the board is not the way to go, the majority of students and faculty do not thrive in the online world, and that is because education is a human process, it is process that happens through dialogue and interaction."
Students say more mental health support, and technical support, as well as accommodations for struggling students would help during online learning.