Postsecondary students battle desperation as online courses extend to 2022

ByMike V. Cooper

Dec 1, 2021
Kaylie Wood-Lyons is in her first year of the Business Management and Entrepreneurship program at Algonquin College. (Submitted by Kaylie Wood-Lyons)

As online courses extend into 2022, some post-secondary students in Ottawa say they’re struggling to stay engaged with schoolwork, make friends and keep desperation at bay.

Many students moved to the city this fall and made their home on campus or in their own apartments, in preparation for in-person classes.

Away from their support networks for the first time in their lives, some find it difficult to stay motivated and healthy.

I’m just sitting at a desk and clicking read after lecture with no feedback or encouragement, and I feel like it’s going to be like that for a while.– Gabbie Cruz, student at Carleton University

Several Carleton University students who contacted CBC via Instagram described their asynchronous classes as paying a lot of money to watch YouTube videos.

While some of the prerecorded classes are released in blocks, others are released periodically. Students who spoke to CBC said some of the videos were obviously recorded before the pandemic.

“You feel very disconnected throughout the conference when you see all the students in real life talking to each other, learning and being really engaged,” said Gabbie Cruz, student at Carleton.

Gabbie Cruz is in her second year of childhood and youth studies at Carleton University. They moved to Ottawa this fall in anticipation of more in-person classes in the winter semester. (Submitted by Gabbie Cruz)

In an email, Carleton University spokesperson Steven Reid defended the asynchronous learning model.

“Some students are early risers while others prefer or can only learn and study late at night. Asynchronous classes provide flexibility,” Reid wrote in an email.

He said the school provides a variety of in-person and online resources to help students develop study and time management skills.

Gabbie Cruz, Carleton University

“Online school has really exhausted my passion for everything,” said Cruz, a 2nd year student living off campus. “I’m just sitting at a desk and sort of clicking conference after conference without any comments or encouragement, and I feel like it’s going to be like that for a while.”

Cruz completed the first year of his degree in Childhood and Youth Studies at Carleton University in the family home in Oakville, Ont.

When they signed up for sophomore classes this summer, a workshop this fall and all of their winter semester classes had to be in person, so they jumped in and found an apartment with two roommates off campus.

Cruz is a “rigorous planner” who relies on a bullet journal to plan his days, but said there have been challenges.

“I do all of the things in life on my own – making sure I have food and that I have time to sleep,” said Cruz. “When you live with your parents, everything is almost settled and you can concentrate entirely on school.”

Last year, several of Cruz’s online classes required students to log in at a set time, but this year, aside from the one in-person workshop, they’re in charge of their own schedules.

Cruz took advantage of the advice given by Reid, which they describe as “quite good in theory” but ultimately “efficient” without better support.

Cruz said they don’t understand why the Panda Game and other sporting events have been allowed to take place, while other activities they enjoy – the theater, for example – remain canceled.

“You don’t know why things are happening so you feel like they’re coming out of nowhere and you can’t stop them and it’s very inevitable that you land in these pits.”

The Algonquin College campus is virtually empty in 2020. (Francis Ferland / CBC)

Kaylie Wood-Lyons, Algonquin College

Kaylie Wood-Lyons, a first year business, marketing and entrepreneurship student, had heard good things about residency living at Algonquin College, but three months later she “would never recommend this residency living experience to anyone. it would be “.

“I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown because of the stress we feel here and the way we feel like we are just being treated like prisoners.”

Wood-Lyons, of Carleton Place, Ont., About a 40-minute drive west of Ottawa, said she chose to move into a residence to overcome the isolation of pandemic life. But with no authorized visitors in the residence, it didn’t work out that way.

“I even got very, very sick. I had to be hospitalized and still had to go downstairs and go outside to get medicine from my sister because they wouldn’t let my sister go up,” she said. .

Algonquin College said in an email that it plans to allow visitors who are fully vaccinated next semester.

Daniel Vlassov, Carleton University

Daniel Vlassov is in his first year at Carleton University, studying computer science and living in residence. (Submitted by Daneil Vlassov)

“I exhaust myself at the end of the day. I don’t have a proper disconnect with my dorm, where I have a double room. I work in front of my bed, ”said Daniel Vlassov, a freshman computer science student who lives on campus.

Vlassov said he could have spent the money he spends in residence on tuition, which he covers through student loans.

But with an in-person class scheduled for next semester, he says he thinks he should stay on campus and the college hasn’t provided any information.

“They say, ‘We are looking at this’ … but we are never given a clear answer.”

Carleton shares COVID-19 information via email, its web portal and on social media, according to Reid. Students get more information directly from departments, he said.