BY ELI KOHN STAFF WRITER
It’s nice, isn’t it?
You have a class that starts at 10 a.m. You wake up at 9:50, turn on your computer, and load Zoom as you start making breakfast. You barely have to pay attention! You eat your eggs while you watch TV, halfway listening to your instructor, only paying close attention to the mention of upcoming assignments or other important dates. You don’t really need to absorb anything because you’ll check the online textbook (and Google) later, when it’s time to do an actual graded assignment.
Grades are what matter. Your camera is off, you’re not paying attention, and as far as your teacher and classmates are concerned, you barely exist.
Is this what you wanted when you came here, to this place of higher education? Are you happy with your existence being reduced to a grey square of pixels with only a name as identification?
If asked all this a year ago (almost to the day) I have no doubt that almost any undergraduate student would be disgusted at the thought. However, almost 60 percent of undergraduate students are either somewhat or very satisfied with the current standard of online education. Of course, this is a considerable downgrade from around 87 percent satisfaction before the pandemic (we aren’t completely out of our minds, I’d like to think), but nonetheless, students and professors alike are steadily increasing their acceptance, if not downright approval, of the current model of virtual education.
Virtual learning has provided an experience of laziness like no other. No more of the routine — waking up, eating, getting dressed, walking out in the cold or rain, sitting in class for an hour, walking back and repeating for the next class two hours later. Not only do you not have to perform the getting-to-class routine you had a year ago, but you can watch TV, eat, text or play video games in every class to no immediate consequence. College has become every unmotivated high schooler’s dream of an educational experience.
Don’t be fooled. Just because you can scroll through social media during class without being called out by your crotchety professor doesn’t mean consequences won’t one day follow. What does anyone expect to come of a generation of students who are purely motivated by grades, and have been given every incentive to be lazy? What of the businesspeople, whose undergraduate degree consisted of mostly looking up answers to unproctored, virtual exams — will we be forced to entrust our economy to them?
Laziness is a hard sickness to battle, but it is quickly becoming the successor to the disease that spawned it. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic allowed for countless companies to make millions off of home delivery, curbside pickup and other unique solutions to issues created by social distancing. Most Americans’ work and education have been reduced to opening laptops.
Asynchronous classes have allowed — in a way even encouraged — students to wake up at 1 in the afternoon and listen through pre-recorded lectures at 2x speed, while “The Bachelor” runs behind their professor’s pixelated visage. It is so easy to be lazy right now, and quite often, it’s difficult not to be. We are on the road to looking like the people from Wall-E.
So, what’s the solution to this problem? There is none other than to suffocate it, to prevent complacency from dictating our lives. As easy as they are now, the “sleep-through” online classes will amount to nothing more than wasted time, and this semester should be a warning sign of what may perpetuate if we allow it to — a culture of laziness.
With daily new COVID-19 cases taking a sharp and promising decline, and 75 percent of adults expected to be vaccinated by summer, there is no reason to continue online classes in fall semester. No reason, that is, besides the complacency we’ve developed.
We’ve done well as a university to avoid a COVID-19 outbreak. Now, we need to avoid a complacency outbreak — in faculty and students alike.