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Last week, students received an update that classes would be cancelled for the remainder of the week and transitioned online as a result of the spreading COVID-19 virus. At the time, I as well as many of my peers, were not upset about the unexpected time off from school, and if I’m being honest, I was not completely dreading the idea of attending class from the comfort of my bed or couch for a few weeks. 

 As the weekend progressed, the news regarding Coronavirus became increasingly alarming as colleges and universities around the country made the decision to terminate in-person classes for the remainder of the semester, and bars and restaurants shut down indefinitely. As a senior, I was in denial that I could have already had my last class on campus at John Carroll and that my final school year would be coming to an end in March instead of May. We had so many things left to do; so many “last times” to embrace, final exams to take, goodbyes to say, and final memories to make. 

Before I could start my first online class, an email from Dr. Johnson on Monday afternoon confirmed that online classes would be our new reality for the remainder of the semester and that all school-related activities would be cancelled in the interest of keeping the John Carroll community safe and healthy. 

Needless to say, I attended my first online class via Zoom, puffy eyes and all on Monday evening.  

I think that knowing that my time on campus and my in-person learning experiences are over has given me a different perspective on my next six weeks of online learning and a new appreciation for my school experiences over the past 18 years. 

I have always prided myself on being a good student; paying attention in class and putting my best effort into my work, but, as I’m sure many students can agree, I didn’t wake up every morning amped to eat my breakfast and go to class. There were cold mornings that I dreaded my walk across campus, (dramatic, I know) or days that I took for granted seeing my friends smiling at me from the quad. I didn’t fully value the opportunity to work on homework at Einstein’s or meet with a group to study in the library. 

I think most of us can agree that our new way of learning has been a harsh reminder that the creativity and collaboration that traditional learning allows/requires should not be taken for granted. I never even considered what it would be like to unmute my microphone to ask my professor a question, or on the flip side, to hear a classmates dog bark in the middle of class. 

The transition to online learning is a new experience for each of us, and while it does have us separated physically, I have an appreciation for the way this common experience is bringing us together. Both students and instructors are working together now more than ever to adjust to this new classroom and work toward creating meaningful learning experiences, a collaboration that may be taken for granted otherwise.