The Transition to Virtual Learning

Undeniably, we are living in a different world than we were a couple of months ago. The Covid-19 has affected our lives in ways that we can’t imagine, physically and mentally. Schools are closed, businesses are shut down, sports are suspended and families are separated. With all the uncertainties around us, it is normal for us to fear or question how we should approach our lives in the midst of this pandemic 

As a current postgraduate student at Henley, after the school was shut, I worried that I wasn’t going to be able to finish my degree. I always had this idea in the back of my mind that the only way to learn or to get an education is to physically attend schools or universities. However, I was wrong. 

Virtual learning completely changes my perspective about learning. I realised that we are not, and never will be, geographically bound to learn something, yet the only limit is ourselves and how we can keep encouraging and inspiring ourselves to learn. From someone who had doubt in virtual learning, I am now really enjoying it. I managed to attend all of the remaining classes online, submitted all my assignments and finished all my exams. However, I couldn’t have done this without the support system that the school provided. 

The University of Reading provides us with an amazing online learning platform called Blackboard Collaborate. Blackboard Collaborate helps students and professors transition smoothly into virtual learning. This platform allows us to have effective online classes just like we were to attend the actual classes. For example, the software enables professors and students to interact through video and audio conferences as well as text chat. In addition, not only the professors, but also students can share their screens in order to maximise the level of engagement. Also, there are many more features on Blackboard Collaborate that help students to maximise their learning experiences. 

Other than the experiences of virtual learning, I also had the opportunity to give an online presentation via Skype. For one of the classes, my team and I had the chance to work with a client in Reading to help them come up with social marketing campaigns for their company. It was my first ever online presentation and it was interesting. 

Besides the presentation, exams were also done and submitted online through a software called Turnitin. At first, I thought that online exams would be easier than in-class exams. However, it was the opposite. Maybe because the exams were open-book and because I had access to tons of information either from class materials or online academic sources, it was difficult to be specific when answering each question. However, I see how this can be very beneficial for my future career. Online exams, as well as online classes, have taught me that out of all the information we encounter each day, it is important for us to be able to process and extract only the core and relevant information. This is an important skill to have when entering a workforce, especially in this digital world that we live in. 

If there is one thing that this pandemic has taught us is that we are, and will continue to be, digitally connected. Do not let anything hold you back from getting a good education. Do not let barriers such as time or location define your success. I understand that many of us have other responsibilities in life and might find it difficult to physically attend all of the classes, therefore, virtual learning is the answer. At the University of Reading, you will find that learning is fun and that you can go about it at your own pace. And, if you have to switch to virtual learning, with the well-equipped online teaching platform that the school provides, I am sure that they will help you transition into virtual learning as smoothly as possible. 

By Jean Runglerdkriangkrai
MSc Marketing (Digital Marketing)

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