When reports of a virus started coming in, I was sitting in my office at work. The general consensus was “it’ll just go away” so we continued our work like nothing was happening. If only we knew what the next year would bring. When the advice was to “work from home” we did, and not long after we were furloughed. I panicked. Working in a highly affected sector I was scared to be sitting around doing nothing. I started googling college and university courses I could sign up to as a backup in case it didn’t work out with my job and I couldn’t get another job.
The Decision To Apply To College
As the weeks went on I found myself feeling unsettled. How do people find things to do when they aren’t working? So I started blogging a lot more and put my time and effort into Pinterest marketing (like far too much time…I made myself ill). I burnt myself out and stopped. When I stopped focusing all of my energy on that, I finally had a clear head. The same thing kept coming into my head “what are you doing with your life?”. Cue the life crisis panic of a 25-year-old.
My whole life I’ve been told the same thing “You have a voice for the radio” or “I could listen to your voice all day”. It’s resonated with me. When I was searching for college courses I found myself coming back to the same one. Radio. With a Media degree under my belt and an HND in TV production, it felt like another media-based role I could fall in love with. So I applied. If I’m being honest, I’ve avoided it for years because people kept telling me wonderful things about my voice and saying I’d be great on the radio or starting a podcast. I didn’t do it. I was stubborn. Why should others pick my career for me? I do wish I’d listened sooner.
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Telling My Boss
Fast forward to August 2020. My boss sends an email saying he’d like us to come back to work full-time in September. Fantastic, right? No. I had my heart absolutely set on going to study radio at college now. So I talked to my boss and managed to get part-time hours within the company doing the same job. Thank god I did. In December, the entire company was furloughed again.
The course started in September. I was so excited. We had been added to classes in Microsoft Teams (something I had never used until now) and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. I kept checking the college portal to see if any work had been put up so I could study early. There wasn’t anything, of course. I was keen. The first Monday was short, an explanation of the course and getting to know each other. At this point, I thought “This is great, no small talk and awkward silences because we’re online”. A few months later I would be desperate to get into college.
I’ve never had a lecturer who is so attentive and supportive before. Or maybe I just didn’t utilise what I had at the time. In any case, my lecturer is fantastic. He constantly goes out of his way to make sure we’re doing okay and that we will pass. Always happy to go over things as much as we need and generally has a lot of motivation for the role. That motivation is contagious. I have never felt more willing to sit down and get work done before. I can tell he enjoys the job, this helps us enjoy the course.
Half-Way Through My Course
As much as my experience has been great so far, I am desperate to get into the studio and learn more. We are now able to go into the college, but only a couple of people at a time. I went in earlier this week and it was just as great as I had anticipated and I picked up working with the equipment in the studio quicker than I (or my lecturer) expected. I’m currently feeling hopeful for the rest of my course and my general future making audio content.
What Is Online Learning Like?
I can only speak from my own experience. Online learning is great for me. There is no commute, no small talk and I love working from my own space. However, I am on a radio course. Radio normally means radio studio. We haven’t had the chance to use the radio studio at the college yet. Of course, this was always a possibility when I signed up for the course in July, but I really thought by 2021 we’d have a better handle on the virus.
One of the best things about online learning is learning to adapt. With a course like radio, we’ve learned how to use the things we have on hand i.e. phone microphones, blankets, etc. to make our recordings sound better. This has made us all be a little more creative in how we tackle situations. I wouldn’t change my experience with this one bit. I’ve compiled a list of the good and bad things I find about online learning.
The Good Things
- No commute
- Being able to message my lecturer on teams instead of emailing. It’s quicker as emails can fill up fast and can be missed
- Save money on lunches (as I’m not tempted to buy when I’m out)
- Can be in my comfy clothes (yes, I sometimes just stay in my pajamas)
- Working on my own schedule – a lot of our course is going off and working on things by ourselves which is great because if I’m not feeling creative, I can do something more “boring” in that time instead of being tied to class times. If we were in the college that time would be set aside for that specific thing.
- General flexibility – if we can’t make a class for any reason there is the ease of our lecturer being able to record the session on Microsoft Teams
- I can turn up to class even if I am ill
The Bad Things
- Not getting to know classmates well
- Limited use of resources (i.e. I can’t go into the radio studio or library)
- Generally forgetting how to socialise due to lack of human contact
- Technical difficulties (there has been a lot of learning from it though)
- Sore heads from staring at screens too long (what’s new, this is like any job)
- It’s easier to get distracted
Why Blended Learning Is Ideal
In my opinion, blended learning is the way forward. It gives people the flexibility to study no matter what their situation whilst also providing students with the experience of getting to meet each other and take advantage of all resources available to them. Particularly for practical courses, there are often elements that can be taught over the computer (such as law modules or finance modules), but also elements that absolutely can’t be taught online (such as baking or radio presenting). There is no point in students commuting when they don’t have to.
Of course, this is personal to me. I am sure there are many people who much prefer going in for every single class. That’s fine, we’re all different and education should reflect that.
Final Thoughts On Doing My College Course Online
I wouldn’t change my experience for the world. Without this group of people the course wouldn’t be what it was. If I had done the course earlier in my life, I may not have appreciated everything as much. Heck, I wouldn’t have worked as hard as I am. It’s been a good learning journey and I can’t wait to get my qualification.