My Personal Experience with Online Learning

January 29, 2021
Alice O’Rorke

The move to online learning has been interesting. As someone who hates staring at a computer screen for too long, this has been a huge adjustment and initially, I was, of course, sceptical. However, as the first term went on, and lectures and seminars online became the new norm, I came to the surprise realisation that I quite like this way of working. That doesn’t mean that it's preferable to in-person learning, but it definitely isn’t nearly as bad as I imagined.

How It Works.

“I found that I spent more time straining to hear, than actually understanding, meaning my work became fragmented”

My lectures are all uploaded for me to watch in my own time, which is very helpful.
They are often uploaded in parts, or on slides, which means that I can pace myself and take breaks when necessary. I can rewind when I miss an important point as well. Seminars are slightly more problematic. Technical difficulties mean that there are always a few students dropping on and off, meaning that they are missing potentially significant points. Living in a house of eight means that there are frequently points where our Wi-Fi is overstretched, and this can be a real issue.

The fact that people can choose to have their cameras off is also limiting. The engagement between participants is more limited. Furthermore, the words ‘we are going into breakout groups’ are universally dreaded, because, at these points, seminars always get somewhat awkward. To begin with, Uni offered some in-person sessions, where we were required to wear masks and visors. I found this very challenging, because not only did the visors steam up, but also the double face protection meant that it became really difficult to hear what everyone was saying. I found that I spent more time straining to hear than actually understanding, meaning my notes became fragmented. Therefore, in the current times, I do find online learning preferable to this.

How I have Made it Work for Me

I have found the shift learning relatively easy (although I appreciate many people haven’t), but I have also taken measures to ensure that it stays this way for me. I create a detailed ‘To-Do List’ at the start of each week so that as I am working at my desk, in front of my computer, I feel like I am achieving something. I invested in a printer, again to reduce some screen time, and I got an audible trial and listened to a couple of my texts that way.

I also started going to the library. As someone who is not a big library attender (I will admit that I only went to the library once in First year), this has been a game-changer, because it means that I break up my day, and work away from home. I move around different libraries and find this very effective. (If libraries aren’t for you, working in different rooms or switching desks with housemates is be a good alternative). I would also recommend the app Forest, which allows you to ‘plant a tree’ for a choice of time, which dies if you leave the app. This has really helped my concentration. 


It is of course true that Online Learning is monotonous. The term did seem very long and in the last few weeks, I struggled. You miss the social aspect of meeting people in person and it’s tough on the eyes. But, in summary, if you have a decent routine in place, I do not think learning online is too bad.

My name is Alice O’Rorke, I am 20 years old and am a HYBR ambassador. I am an English Literature student at the University of Bristol, and am passionate about Literature, in particular anything to do with feminism or culture. I love creative writing, and I want to pursue this further; my creative Instagram is @anorangeroom.