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
Onlookers urged police officers to charge into the Texas elementary school where a gunman's rampage killed 19 children and two teachers, a witness said Wednesday, as investigators worked to track the massacre that lasted upwards of 40 minutes and ended when the 18-year-old shooter was killed by a Border Patrol team.
Families are sharing photos and stories of their loved ones, who lost their lives in a mass shooting in Texas that killed at least 19 children and two adults on Tuesday afternoon.
Charest and Brown challenge Poilievre, and other notable moments from the French Conservative leadership debate
Conservative Party of Canada leadership hopefuls Scott Aitchison, Roman Baber, Patrick Brown, Jean Charest, Leslyn Lewis, and Pierre Poilievre squared off in the second official party debate on Wednesday night in Laval, Que.
The Conservative Party of Canada leadership hopefuls debated face-to-face in French, in Laval, Que. on May 25. Recap CTV News reporters' real-time updates as the debate unfolded.
Several parts of the country, including British Columbia and Canada's Maritime provinces, are likely to see wetter-than-normal conditions this summer, according to AccuWeather's annual summer forecast.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says it has now confirmed a total of 16 cases of monkeypox in the country, all in Quebec.
During an appearance on ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday, adopted siblings Hannah Raleigh of Chicago and Limia Ravart of Montreal met in person for the first time after an ancestry test confirmed the two are in fact related.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cancelled plans to appear in person at a Liberal fundraiser in British Columbia Tuesday after RCMP warned an aggressive protest outside the event could escalate if he arrived, said a source close to the decision. The source spoke to The Canadian Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the situation publicly.
A jury in Portland has convicted a self-published romance novelist - who once wrote an essay titled 'How to Murder Your Husband' - of fatally shooting her husband four years ago.
Quebec politicians were not pleased with the federal Liberals' comments on Bill 96 and Bill 21, firing back with a slew of protests and even raising sovereignty as the solution.
Quebec's public health department is set to give its first press conference on the growing monkeypox outbreak as the province recorded its 16th confirmed case Wednesday.
Several of the six aspiring Conservative leaders expressed their opposition to Bill 96 during a French-language debate in Laval on Wednesday night, but others shied away from the opportunity to express their views on the issue.
Two men and one woman are facing charges Wednesday after police say their vehicle struck a London police cruiser and then the suspects fled the scene on foot over the weekend.
OPP and Southwest Middlesex fire are on the scene of a fatal collision Wednesday afternoon involving a tanker truck and a passenger vehicle.
Jeff Ducharme was in his home office when a young man in a truck pulled up, ran up to the front of his home in Norwich, Ont. and stole his pride flag in broad daylight.
New details are emerging about the tragic incident that killed 27-year-old Shelby Humble-Neale on Saturday.
Waterloo regional police say evidence of gunfire found in McLennan Park in Kitchener is connected to another shooting incident in the nearby area of Windflower Drive and Windflower Crescent.
Two 29-year-old men have been seriously injured following a collision in Baden, Ont., with one needing to be airlifted to a hospital outside the region.
Sault Ste. Marie city council is asking staff to prepare a report on group homes. This comes after Ward 1 Coun. Paul Christian brought forward concerns this week about two such homes.
There are currently a dozen statues at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes property, and all are from the 1950s.
It’s a sign that summer is on the horizon. Farmers’ markets are opening in cities and towns across the north.
The president of Hydro Ottawa says "with a little bit of luck" power will be restored along the Merivale Road area on Thursday, bringing power to another 15,000 to 20,000 customers still in the dark following Saturday's storm.
The Ottawa Catholic School Board says all schools with power will be open on Thursday, but 14 schools without power will remain closed.
Out of the tragedy of Saturday’s storm, come stories of people helping each other.
After a major tragedy, should parents wait for their children to express their feelings before talking about it?
Not having an answer to all of your child's questions about tragedies like the Texas school shooting is perfectly okay, according to a grief therapist with the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Helping students break down academic and social barriers, more Temi robots coming to St. Clair College
The Community Integration through Cooperative Education (CICE) program at St. Clair College received a $20,000 boost Wednesday morning.
Windsor police arrest final suspect sought in Forest Glade shooting, Major Crimes Unit continues investigation
Windsor police have arrested another suspect related to the shooting near a Forest Glade bowling alley in April.
Police charged a 16-year-old girl with attempted murder in connection with an alleged stabbing in Barrie last month.
An Orillia man responsible for causing a head-on collision when he drove the wrong way on Highway 11 four years ago, sending a woman to the hospital with life-altering injuries, has been acquitted.
Provincial police are investigating an alleged sexual assault in Wasaga Beach.
As the inquiry into Nova Scotia’s mass shooting moves its public proceedings to Truro, many of the family members affected by the tragedy and their lawyers are boycotting the proceedings over the next week.
Former Chief Anchor Steve Murphy offers a timely perspective on the Mass Casualty Commission and the difference 30 years after the Westray inquiry.
Speaking off-script at an event in Halifax Wednesday morning, Canada's Minister of Public Safety said he was gutted by the latest mass shooting south of the border - the 27th in a school this year alone.
The City of Calgary has recruited three people from the commercial real-estate sector in an effort to get a new event centre to replace the aging Scotiabank Saddledome.
After a massacre at a Texas elementary school, some are looking into safety protections against gun violence in Calgary's school system while mental health experts are offering advice for difficult conversations about mass shootings.
Those who haven't received their bill by the first week of June are asked to contact 311.
The Manitoba Government could turn to the military for help as it struggles with staffing shortages, overcrowding, and in some cases, temporary closures of emergency rooms.
The Manitoba government is hinting it may allow more alcohol sales through private channels to boost customer convenience.
Hundreds of residents in River Park South were left without power Wednesday evening after a pole was knocked down on St. Anne's Road.
The decision to focus on urgent and emergency health care to avert long waits played a key role in B.C.’s current primary care crisis, and the costlier care is compounding the problem.
A social media video that captures the moment a man gets Tasered by a Vancouver police officer is prompting calls for more training for police going out mental health calls.
A judge has refused to grant a B.C. cannabis company an injunction against a man who used a list of email addresses the company accidentally sent to all shareholders against it.
If you visit downtown Edmonton in the next 11 days, you might see some strange and unusual sights. Art installations and musical performances are popping up throughout the area as part of Downtown Spark.
Even though they cheer for opposite teams, a proposal by a Flames fan at Game 4 of the Battle of Alberta received a resounding "yes" from the Oilers-loving bride to be.
The body of a missing canoer has been located in northeast Alberta.