Mixed opinions among Langara students on year of remote learning

Some thrived, others were faced with challenges while studying online


By Maxine Ellis

For some students, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the reason they decided to go to school this past year.

While many chose to pick up baking and other hobbies during quarantine, others found that the pandemic was the catalyst they needed to head back to school. Accessibility and more free time have proven to be key factors when assessing why those students chose to start their post-secondary education during a global pandemic.

A preference for online

Daniel Rotaru, a first-year part-time computer science student at Langara College, runs his own fibre optics business between Vancouver and Calgary. Having to constantly travel between the two provinces for work made going to in-person classes nearly impossible for Rotaru in the pre-pandemic world.

“As soon as the pandemic hit, that all changed. I had more free time, things were online and more accessible, and unlike most people, it worked out better for me,” Rotaru said. “I’ve kind of fallen in love with remote work. You can actually have a remote job and still have a business and make those two things work together, and I got a little taste of that with remote school.”

First-year Langara student Anela Fridland found opportunity amid the chaos when she enrolled in Langara’s healthcare accessibility program. The program was created in response to the shortage of long-term care aides during the pandemic.

“I was a line cook for a really long time and I wanted to get out of that industry, then [the] pandemic really nailed that coffin shut. So, two days after, I decided I was never going to work in a kitchen again,” Fridland said.

Or a preference for on-campus

Where the online format provided advantages for some, they proved to be a big challenge for others. Katie Dowle, a general sciences student at Langara, put her education on hold because of the pandemic.

“The act of going somewhere to learn really got my mindset working. I would get into the mindset of ‘OK, I have to learn today’ or ‘I have to focus on these things today.’ Being at home, on a screen on a Zoom call, did not do that for me,” Dowle said.

There are 14,450 students enrolled in the current academic year at Langara College.

Pandemic learning has divided students into two different categories, said Thor Polukoshko, an English instructor at Langara. He said there are students, like Dowle, who are struggling to engage in courses and with their content, and there are those, like Rotaru, who may have struggled in a traditional classroom environment, but are now flourishing in this new online setting.

“There are those students who are just absolutely thriving in the online environment, those students who in class might have been too shy to say something,”  Polukoshko said.

“Those students who are so busy with work and personal life that they miss classes, and the online format is allowing those students to be like ‘hey, I can do this at my own pace,’ and they get really engaged.”

Daniel Rotaru speaks more about his decision to head to school during the pandemic.

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