by Sithandiwe Dlamini
Planet earth has experienced its share of pandemics throughout history and the current one is nothing new to it. However, Covid-19 is a new experience for us, its current dwellers. Even though we’ve experienced recent ones such has the H1N1 Swine flu and HIV, which is still making its presence known, few of us can remember a time in our lives when economies shut down and we were obligated to stay home. I’ve seen memes depicting 2020 as the year that threw pies into our faces and smeared it over our New Year’s resolutions. It’s now August and many of us are on a spectrum of still trying to clean the mess up or having created new and clean resolutions. Whatever it is, there’s something to be said about being able to laugh and decompress even though we are living though tumultuous times.
They have forced me to ask crucial questions about myself and how I can make this pandemic a more bearable experience for myself and others. Half-answers or no answers at all have been produced but it’s a process. It’s been rewarding to be more deliberate in my thinking and actions and the pandemic has extended the idea of what one can do, no matter how small or big, even though we are physically constricted.
Lockdown continues! It’s been about 4 months of lockdown and the life of online learning has not appeared to slow down. I have found that I have had more time to focus on academics, most likely due to no travel time, although actually executing the studying part is difficult. During the writing of my first test, finding a quiet workplace at home to complete this test was non-existent and I struggled to finish the test. The assessments and tests that followed, I managed to prepare my environment to be more efficient.
Getting used to a software like Prism felt powerful because of the many applications this programme can be used for. However, knowing what I was doing with it made me feel lost. It felt like using Prism was “out of my league”.
I guess I have become way too comfortable being at home with my family. I do admit it is very nice to not have to worry about cooking or any chores I would have to do by myself if I were back in Cape Town. Getting back into the swing of things upon returning back to Cape Town will be challenging.
It has been 4 months since the official nation-wide lockdown. Over 4 months since lectures, tired morning coffees and what we used to know as our normal daily life. Heading into the end of July, people have become used to the changes; yet, still nothing is normal about this at all.
Online learning has been an interesting experience. It isn’t only because of the absence of physical practical sessions and lectures or daily campus trips. It’s rather a series of realizations that makes one appreciate the opportunities we are given everyday that we take for granted.
Although we have been given the utmost privilege in a well-structured and resourceful online learning experience, one cannot deny that it is not the same as in person face-to-face learning. You begin to realize that interpersonal interaction during lectures, being able to ask questions face-to-face and learning through practical demonstrations are almost irreplaceable to lecture recordings. Additionally, having a social structural group where group tutorials and projects allows space for further learning is absent during this time. Lack of physical social interaction has made the process of learning rather more difficult than expected.
As online learning still continues, I think it is important to appreciate the interactions we have on a daily basis and the value of face-to-face learning opportunities. Especially, even if it means complaining about lack of sleep, in hindsight, it is still something I miss when done with a group of close friends in the same environment.