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Sample Reflection Paper on Online Learning
A reflection paper is a written project that details a student’s thoughts, feelings, and opinions regarding a specific topic. Often written using the first-person point of view, it is a commonly assigned coursework intended to enhance a student’s critical thinking, self-awareness, perceptiveness, and communication skills. This sample reflection paper details challenges experienced during online learning.
The COVID-19 pandemic that emerged in late 2019 had a profound impact on the global economy , culture, and society. In just the span of a few days, the lives of billions of people around the world were dramatically changed due to the adoption of measures intended to curb the spread of disease. Social distancing, wearing protective gear like medical masks, and local and regional lockdowns were just some new realities that countries had to contend with. In the education sector, online learning became the predominant trend. Whereas online learning once comprised only a small portion of the student population, usually those in more advanced academic levels and capable of self-directed learning, most students from grade school to post-graduate school had to shift to virtual classes. But while students like me had no choice but to take online learning as the only alternative, the experience had not been easy. Among the challenges that I had to face included disruptions in sessions due to technical issues, social isolation due to lack of physical interaction, and lack of motivation because of the blurring of the line that separates the school from personal life.
One of the most difficult challenges I experienced from online learning was having to deal with disruptions in class due to technical issues. The computer and the internet are powerful and useful technologies. Indeed, the current pandemic made it clear that the internet is a basic necessity . But that does not mean they do not come with drawbacks. For one, the sudden shift from physical to virtual classes meant I had to familiarize myself with online communication platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams. These platforms were not always user-friendly and it took a while for me to understand how they work. I also found it difficult to concentrate during classes because of technical issues. For example, the internet connection fluctuated on more than a few occasions, causing the video and audio from my teachers to become garbled and incomprehensible. It was also difficult to interact with my classmates and teachers. We could not speak in the same way we did in physical classes, since even just two people talking simultaneously meant we would not be able to understand each other. These technical issues ultimately made the learning process harder.
Another challenge I encountered was this sense of social isolation due to lack of physical interaction. I consider myself a fairly outgoing person. I enjoy bonding with my friends and I like participating in class activities. I also used to spend some time with friends after school. We would have short group study sessions where we would bond while reviewing our lessons. But all these were impossible to do in virtual classes. The class sessions felt so impersonal, especially since many of my classmates chose not to turn on their videos. For instance, I once delivered a presentation in class, but it felt like I was talking to a blank wall since I was looking at the camera rather than my classmates’ faces. This experience was, at the very least, a little distracting. I feel that I would have performed better if I was in an actual classroom since I present better when I can read cues from my audience's reactions. But because I could not see my classmates’ faces, I was not sure how the presentation was going. Fortunately, I still received a good grade for it. We also could not hold classes for very long. Staying online for extended periods of time often led to fatigue overtaking me. I eventually learned that I am not alone in this. As I read in one reputable article, too much teleconferencing can indeed be exhausting for participants. In sum, I would say that I fare far better in actual classrooms than in online learning because I consider physical interaction as essential to my overall learning experience.
Finally, I also felt a lack of motivation, largely because of how online learning blurred the line between school and my personal life. Being in school has a certain effect on me. When I leave my home and go to school, I feel that I am entering this space that expects me to think and act a certain way. It almost feels like being in school allows me to internalize the role of the student, thus enabling me to perform the duties expected of me like studying, attending classes, and taking part in academic activities. This space that defines my role disappeared when we shifted to online classes. All of a sudden I found myself at home and in school at the same time. This experience was disorienting and it had a detrimental effect on my sense of motivation. For instance, there were times when we were having virtual classes and then my parents or siblings would come knocking at my door. It was confusing being suddenly reminded that my home had become my school, too, and my sense of motivation suffered because of that. There were days when I did not feel like attending classes. Luckily, my parents were very supportive. They set up a room to give me more privacy and minimize disruptions when they knew I was in class.
My experience with online learning was not easy. I had to contend with technical issues that made sessions more difficult to manage, a sense of social isolation due to lack of physical contact, and a lack of motivation because of how school and personal life merged. I understand, however, that shifting to virtual classes was a necessary step to ensure the safety of all. Now that the world is gradually emerging from the pandemic, I remain hopeful that one of these days, physical classes will become the norm once again not just for me but for all the other students who felt the way I did. But for now, I strive to make the best of the situation and hold on to the lessons that this experience taught me.
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