University students struggling with impact of online classes as pandemic wears on
Breanna Reid-Clarke has attended all her university classes over the last two years from her bedroom and it's taking a toll.
Studying from home as a result of the pandemic has meant feeling isolated, and has brought challenges in building strong connections with colleagues and instructors, says the 21-year-old.
Now, even as universities make plans for students to return gradually over the next month, some like Reid-Clarke say they aren't hopeful their post-secondary experiences can be turned around.
"My school experience (was) basically taken from me ... so it's frustrating," says Reid-Clarke, who studies politics and governance at Ryerson University in Toronto.
"I don't really have hope that everything is going to return, and if in the event that it does return, I just feel like things are just going to be shut down again."
Post-secondary institutions moved learning online when the pandemic hit and a return to campus that began in September was suspended when the Omicron variant arrived late last year. Many universities have now said they're planning a phased return to in-person education in the coming weeks.
Reid-Clarke says the uncertainty around her school schedule over the last two years has made it difficult to plan not just her academic activities, but also her shifts working at a retail store and a students' association.
"We don't really know what we're doing constantly. And we also have that pressure from our employers to kind of almost know what we're doing," she says. "It just makes things really, honestly, annoying and difficult."
Erfan Nouraee, a second-year electrical engineering student at York University, is hoping the return to campus takes place.
He says he needs access to university laboratories and equipment to do his research, noting that remote learning has delayed some of his work.
"It's been really challenging for me to find a place to work on my inventions and projects," he says "I really was uncertain about it -- what I really should do going forward? Should I stop all my work for the year ahead?"
York University was among several post-secondary schools to recently announce a phased return to campus that is set to start Jan. 31. The University of Toronto and Waterloo University, meanwhile, said on-campus classes and activities will start resuming on Feb 7.
Ryerson University said it will start a gradual return on Jan. 31, with a full return anticipated by Feb. 28.
"I hope that many of you will welcome this return and see it as an opportunity to begin a post-pandemic way of living, learning and working," Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi wrote in a letter to students last week.
Kelly Gallagher-Mackay, an assistant professor at Wilfrid Laurier University who has been researching educational experiences during the pandemic, says online learning works better for some and is less successful for others.
Going to university is more than just academics, she says, and online learning that's taken place so far has deprived students of some of the in-person experiences that come with being on campus.
"They don't go out for a coffee after class, they don't kind of take what they learned in the classroom and go into social life with other students," she says. "There's big lost opportunities for peer learning, for socializing."
Educators feel the impact too, she says.
Gallagher-Mackay says she got to know students she taught in-person much better than those she taught online.
"It was only a tiny handful of the students who rarely turn the cameras on (who) I know well enough to write a letter of reference for," she says.
"I knew quite a lot of my in-person students well enough to talk informally ... or get a sense of what their interests were, why they were taking our program, all those kinds of things. And that two-way knowledge leads students to be more likely to seek help from their professors when they need it."
Kristina Llewellyn, an associate professor of social development studies at the University of Waterloo, says remote learning has exacerbated inequality issues that some students from equity-seeking communities face when they study from home.
"It's everything from basic access to the internet, to the time that it takes for online learning when you're juggling full-time employment or other caretaking responsibilities," she says.
"We know that there's great inequality when it comes to who has to juggle, for example, during the pandemic, a full-time position in addition to their learning."
The pandemic has also compounded mental health issues many university students have had, she says.
"There are not enough robust resources happening on university campuses to address mental health concerns of students," she says. "We need to ensure that those resources are put in place now and post-pandemic."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2022.
Toronto Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
A former police officer, the 86-year-old mother of Buffalo's former fire commissioner, and a grandmother who fed the needy for decades were among those killed in a racist attack by a gunman on Saturday in a Buffalo grocery store. Three people were also wounded.
A racist ideology seeping from the internet's fringes into the mainstream is being investigated as a motivating factor in the supermarket shooting that killed 10 people in Buffalo, New York. Most of the victims were Black.
A driver who struck and killed a woman and her three young daughters nearly two years ago 'gambled with other people's lives' when he took the wheel, an Ontario judge said Monday in sentencing him to 17 years behind bars.
Pierre Poilievre is denouncing the 'white replacement theory' believed to be a motive for a mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., as 'ugly and disgusting hate-mongering.'
A jury trial is to begin today for a man and his son who are accused of killing two Métis hunters.
One of Canada's most successful Second World War flying aces, James "Stocky" Edwards of Comox, B.C., has died at the age of 100.
'Aquaman' actor Amber Heard told jurors on Monday that Johnny Depp slammed her against a wall and wrapped a shirt around her neck during their 2015 honeymoon on the Orient Express.
Canadians welcome Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, as they embark on a three-day, travel-filled visit starting Tuesday. Between what senior government officials, Canadian Heritage, Rideau Hall and Clarence House have released, here's everything we know about the royal tour and its itinerary.
A man opened fire during a lunch reception at a Southern California church, killing one person and wounding five older people before a pastor hit the gunman on the head with a chair and parishioners hog-tied him with electrical cords.
Quebec coroner calls for independence in public health director role in final report on long-term care home deaths
The government of Quebec needs to ensure the role of the public health director is independent and without any 'political constraint,' a Quebec coroner has recommended in a final report into deaths at long-term care homes during the pandemic's first wave.
Quebec should aim to welcome 100,000 immigrants per year, according to the Conseil du patronat (CPQ).
Montreal commuters woke up to spiking gas prices as some stations' price for regular is currently a record high and over $2.15-per-litre.
Two suspects have been arrested by members of the OPP in relation to a stolen pick-up truck that rear-ended a school bus in London, Ont. on Monday morning.
The call came in just before midnight and police responded to the area of Wellington Road south and Bradley Avenue.
No injuries are reported after a pick-up truck reportedly struck the back of a school bus on Monday morning.
The investigation into the suspicious death of an eight-year-old boy in Cambridge continues with police expected to speak and release further information Monday afternoon.
Tanti, 27, was stabbed during a confrontation outside a downtown Guelph bar on MacDonell Street around 2 a.m. on February 29, 2020.
Eleven days after red paint was found splattered over the base of the Queen Victoria statue at Victoria Park, the City of Kitchener has cleaned the monument.
Complaints about people hunting and shooting roaming cows in the area of Old Woman Road, on Highway 17 north of Sault Ste. Marie, were reported by the OPP in tweets late Saturday and early Sunday.
Three new forest fires were discovered in northeastern Ontario
Ontario Provincial Police in the Sudbury area had a busy weekend dealing with stunt drivers, including one who went 71 km/h above the speed limit.
The Canada Day main stage will be at LeBreton Flats park just west of downtown Ottawa this year, not on Parliament Hill.
The Terry Fox statue across from Parliament Hill will need to be moved to make way for a new building to house MPs and senators, committee rooms and an Indigenous Peoples' space.
The Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est continues to investigate the dress code "blitz" at École secondaire catholique Béatrice-Desloges last Thursday, which students said left them feeling degraded and humiliated.
Windsor police are actively investigating a report of a suspicious package in east Windsor.
OPP in Essex are investigating after it was reported a weapon was brought to a grade school dance on Friday.
The Windsor-Essex County Association of Realtors’ report shows housing sales decreased for the second straight month, but the average price continues to increase.
A truck rollover on Highway 400 south of Newmarket is causing major delays Monday, according to provincial police.
A fashion market is coming to the Town of Innisfil next month.
An OPP cruiser flipped onto its roof shortly after noon Monday.
A jury of three women and two men has been chosen in the coroner's inquest into the death of Chantel Moore -- a 26-year-old Indigenous woman fatally shot during a wellness check by police in Edmundston, N.B.
RCMP treatment of its tactical team in the days following the April 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia was characterized as "absolutely disgusting" during testimony before the public inquiry examining the killings.
Two men are facing charges, including attempted murder, after a man was found injured in Halifax’s Fairview neighbourhood Saturday night.
A summer approaches, travellers hoping to rent a vehicle may find it difficult to find an affordable option – not just in Alberta, but right across Canada.
The mayors of Calgary and Edmonton are throwing their support behind their respective home teams ahead of the long awaited return of a playoff version of the storied Battle of Alberta.
A new Calgary Transit pilot that allows bicycles on CTrains at all times, including peak travel hours, is now in effect.
Winnipeg police say human remains found in North Kildonan early Monday morning are believed to be the result of a homicide.
Water watchers are cautiously optimistic now that the Red River crest has passed through the Rural Municipality of Morris.
A major infant formula recall by the U.S. manufacturer of Similac has exacerbated ongoing pandemic-related supply issues for some Canadian retailers, according to the Retail Council of Canada, while other stores have generally been able to keep shelves stocked, with any shortages mostly temporary.
A 23-year-old man has been arrested and charged after two women were groped in a busy area of downtown Vancouver in broad daylight.
Canada Post unveiled a new line of stamps Monday that are meant to raise awareness of the plight of five endangered species of whales.
A so-called “resistance movement” is planned at Vancouver City Hall Monday, as those opposed to a controversial plan to dramatically densify the Broadway corridor push back.
The Alberta man accused of first-degree murder in the deaths of a 24-year-old woman and her 16-month-old child is due in court on Monday.
A Parkland County man has been charged in connection to sex crimes involving a teenager, and police believe there may be more victims.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is in Washington in an effort to convince Capitol Hill lawmakers that his province is their best bet for North American energy security.