Students explore upside to online learning

By Imogen Hyndman

Red River College Polytechnic students say a combination of flexible in-person and virtual learning might benefit future classes.

“Now that it’s [online learning] been shown to be so possible, I think that freedom can be so helpful,” said Sarah Jane Martin, a graduate of Creative Communications. 

Sarah Jane Martin works from the comfort of her own home with her MacBook Pro./SARAH JANE MARTIN

In 2020, Martin switched to online learning in her last two months of the CreComm program and said it was highly stressful. She said the system was overloaded and unprepared at the time, making online meetings and submitting work difficult.

“I have ADHD and always really struggled with staying engaged with video content. Remote learning required so much more of me,” she said. “I’m glad I’m at a point now to get by in those situations.”

Martin is a freelance contractor through UpHouse Inc. and said she likes having the choice to work from home. 

“If I spend my morning going for walks and tend to chores around the house that are bugging me, then I feel that I’m better equipped to work through the evening,” she said. 

Martin said she might have had a better learning experience if online education were accessible in the program.

“I once had a roommate who ended up having a suicide attempt. I still went to school that week. When you’re feeling emotionally vulnerable, it’s a safer space to stay at home for some,” she said.

Martin attends a meeting with colleagues for her freelance contracting job through UpHouse Inc./SARAH JANE MARTIN

If Student Accessibility Services mimicked a learning environment at home, it would allow the students to participate, Martin added.

Jeanine Webber, executive director, academic at RRC Polytech, recommended students reach out to Student Accessibility Services and faculty members if they need accommodations.

“Our consultants are experts, and they’ll be able to give a variety of resources to help,” she said. “There is the potential for some high-flex experiences where the student could potentially participate in the class from a remote location.”

Many programs require students to be on campus, and administrators are focusing on having a wider range of opportunities to select what matches, Webber said.

Ontario’s Ministry of Education is considering making online education a permanent option for public school students to accommodate students who live in remote locations or struggle with social anxiety.

“I think that it’s important to trust that the students paying for their education will have the sense to work in the ways that are best for them,” Martin said. 

Students can contact Student Accessibility Services by visiting their website to find out about the different learning options available for them.