BY: CHRIS KERNAN-SCHMIDT, FAUX ESTATE CORRESPONDENT
Editor’s note: This piece is a work of fiction written for Fourth Estate’s satire issue, Faux Estate.
As the pandemic rages on, as life is upended in so many negative ways and as President Trump looks to restart the nation, one silver lining appears: online classes.
Online classes are not a new phenomenon. In fact, every semester since I enrolled at Mason, I have been in at least one online class. They offer students the freedom to do their work from any corner of the globe, save students time and money (no more driving in traffic) and allow for the more introverted among us to sit silently without fear of socializing.
When Mason announced that all classes would move to an online format I was thrilled. I said to my mother who was sitting next to me, “You mean I don’t have to pay an online distance learning fee? Score!”
I was ecstatic. The thought of being able to spend all day in my house with only the company of my loving family members all while discussing important class concepts online was exciting.
I was prepared. I bought a new speaker system so I could hear my classmates and professors loud and clear. I removed the anti-FBI-spying tape off my laptop’s computer and waited. I waited until professors one-by-one sent out their plans for the remainder of the semester.
With each new email I got, I became more and more excited. The emails were so vague and mysterious: “I am working on a new syllabus…”, “We must postpone the project…”, “We are not having classes anymore…” It was all music to my ears. I am all for trying new things, so new projects, new assignments, new syllabi — wow — it was like Christmas all over again.
Frankly, I did not pay thousands of dollars per class to sit bored in the classroom while some doctor or something-or-other drones on about God knows what. Now I can sit in my bed with my massive poster of Speed Racer hanging behind me as I log on to class. (“Log on to class,” who would have thought I’d say that nowadays?) If I get bored, I can just browse my phone, watch a movie or simply sleep, all while being “in class.” It’s genius!
However, I rarely get bored these days. When class begins it’s a joy to watch everyone fumble around with their cameras and microphones all while trying to figure out how the heck Blackboard Collaborate or WebEx works. So much time is dedicated to simply figuring out how to hold class that by the time class ends I’ve spent almost 90 minutes laughing!
Some professors (thankfully) have decided to forgo holding class altogether. There’s nothing better than simply submitting work to Blackboard (some would argue this is “busy” work, but like, we’re at home with nothing to do, it’s supposed to keep you busy!) with no follow-up.
Overall, office hours, in-person discussions and “meaningful” lectures were overrated. This pandemic is one giant experiment that proves that online teaching (forget online learning) is clearly superior. I, for one, am glad that my tuition is being used so wisely.
Note to readers: That said, I sincerely appreciate the hard work that professors and students alike are putting in to make the spring semester as meaningful as possible. This semester is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced, but we’ll get through it together.