ARC students adapt to online learning during the pandemic

Students say studying online is challenging


American River College journalism student Carla Montaruli says she misses the direct contact with others on campus during the pandemic, in the fall semester of 2021. (Photo courtesy of Carla Montaruli)

Nearly two years after the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, American River College students say they still face difficulties due to the pandemic. They also worry about the challenges that will need to be addressed when they transition from online to in-person study, and the methods they used to adapt to the new reality of online learning.

Carla Montaruli, a journalism major at ARC, says she didn’t like how the COVID-19 pandemic interfered with her being able to have direct contact with professors and not being able to have a conversation with them in person, or even with her classmates.

“Many students during this period of change have found it difficult to approach the new platforms used to communicate with professors and classmates and to participate in class,” Montaruli said. “It wasn’t easy to adapt with online learning at first.”

Carolina Estrada, a communications major at ARC, says that during the COVID-19 pandemic one of the most difficult things she encountered was the fear of being affected by COVID-19. 

“Many people around me had become ill during this time, and I had lost a lot of family members because of it,” Estrada said.“My closest loved ones are some of the lucky ones that made it.” 

Mir Aqa Halim, a communication studies major at ARC, says that during COVID-19 he has been a full-time student. During that time, he said, he missed due dates for assignments and emailed the instructors and asked them to give him more time because he didn’t have the energy and wasn’t in the mood to learn or write essays. 

Halim had to learn to do his assignments during the night because his kids were asleep, and he had a quieter environment. He also kept a schedule with all the times and due dates, which helped him.

Montrauli says that online learning saves time for other things to get done.

“I believe that this change, in some ways, has positively affected me, as it has given me a way to save time in my day to use differently,” Montrauli said.

She adds she thought the level of knowledge could be broadly the same, but she didn’t think learning online was the same way that in-person learning can be.

Estrada says either way of learning works for her.  

“With online classes, it is easier to do the work at random times, and for people with more obligations other than just school, it becomes more convenient,” Estrada said. 

Halim says some courses are good if students took them online, but most are not. He says he did not receive the same level of knowledge from online classes as the in-person learning environment, because many times when he had questions or challenges and emailed his professors, and they responded after three days. If he was in class he could ask at the moment.

“I think [in-person learning] is much better than the online environment,” Halim said.

Estrada says when she had a hard time trying to understand something online, she tended to pick up another device and look for other sources and try to piece it together.

“That method has worked really well for me because if one explanation wasn’t clicking in my head, I would look that up to understand better and keep reading or listening to a lecture,” Estrada said.

Estrada says there may be difficulties when returning to in-person learning.

“I believe the difficulties when returning back to in-person learning will pose some challenges because some people have taken new jobs that may pose an inconvenience for more structured classes or other obligations that they have taken on,” Estrada said. 

Halim says he thought if he returned to in-person learning in the first weeks, it could be kind of new for him.

“I would enjoy making new friends and making some connections with new classmates,” Halim said. “The negative effect of online learning is cutting off the relationship between students and instructors. COVID-19 changed human life.”