Online classes strain more than just the eyes

With the transition to learning over the web, students have begun feeling more burnt out as a result of their new environment

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By Meg McLachlan

Post-secondary students across the Lower Mainland say they are experiencing an increased level of burnout this year because of COVID-19.

Since classes have moved online, more students are suffering from burnout without the usual coping mechanisms like socializing with friends, weekend getaways and physical exercise to help manage stress levels.

According to a survey by Toronto Science Policy Network, Canadian graduate students indicated a 72 per cent increase in the severity of mental health symptoms, including depression, anxiety and loneliness.

Tanzil Mulji, a second-year nursing student at Langara, is thankful she is not in first year. “I can’t imagine trying to learn IVs or wound care … via video demonstration,” Mulji said.

One of the hardest challenges of this school year for Mulji has been her sedentary home life. “I’m less active. I don’t have to walk across campus to get from one class to another anymore, which doesn’t seem like much but it’s a tiny moment of movement that I lack now,” Mulji said.

Yani Kong, an art history and criticism instructor at SFU, struggles to balance home life, her work and her students.

“I feel like I’m in a kind of a mild depression … I don’t want to get up and do this, again, kind of like the monotony of life is really getting to me,” Kong said.

Taught in Germany but learned in Canada

Kate Levesque is in her second year of her master’s degree in science and forestry at the University of Alberta. She was studying abroad in Germany when the pandemic hit and was forced to continue her German program back in Canada.

On top of the time difference between Canada and Germany, Levesque struggles at not being able to work alongside her peers and professors in a lab setting.

“I think the imposter syndrome I feel is a result of not being physically present within the post-secondary institution. It all drains on my mental health because I am constantly feeling like I am not good enough,” said Levesque.

Both the University of Alberta and its German counterpart made many accommodations for Levesque. They reimbursed her tuition and the University of Alberta also covered the cost of her flight home in April.

One of her German professors even helped her expense the purchase of a new computer that mirrored the computer lab she left behind.

The last day of classes at Langara is Dec. 3rd with final exams beginning immediately after.

Interview clip with Yani Kong, talking about how communicating with students has been difficult due to online classes.

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