Today’s learning landscape has changed. With the opportunities of technology, the college classroom goes beyond a physical building to incorporate living rooms, dining tables and home offices.
For students like Meghan Blakely (B.S. ’20), the freedom to learn from anywhere opened the door to a new way of learning that aligned with her schedule. Before she completed her program, we chatted with Meghan about her experience online. She shared her story about what it was like to transition to a virtual learning environment in the middle of her program at Cornerstone University’s Professional & Graduate Studies (PGS).
How did you get started in the online format?
I started my bachelor’s in business administration and leadership program on campus in Grand Rapids. But then in the last four to five classes, we moved online (due to precautions for COVID-19). It was a really cool experience to see how well my program translated to a virtual environment.
I was employed full time, so being able to transition between working and schooling remotely was a natural one for me. Learning online felt more in tune with my everyday life rather than going to a physical classroom.
Although it only took 10 minutes for me to get to campus, being able to livestream freed up so much more time in my day. I felt as though I had more options to engage with the content in my program. For example, in one of my livestream classes, the instructor recorded and posted the class lectures and discussions for us, which was helpful; it allowed me to be able to go back and review the content.
Online learning is the way the world is going. It gives so many more possibilities to so many more people.
In what ways are you able to stay engaged with your classmates and instructors through a virtual setting?
At first, I thought that online meetings would be weird. But they were actually pretty seamless.
One student sat in the physical classroom, while the rest of us tuned in via livestream. We could see and hear all the enrolled students and the instructor the whole time.
We became really close as a virtual class. Catching up with them on a daily basis was still an option, and being remote wasn’t weird or awkward at all. During class, we were able to do breakout sessions which allowed us to still communicate with each other.
You have to be very intentional when it comes to virtual interaction. It makes a world of difference to have your camera on as it helps you have face-to-face interaction. Being able to have audio and video and see people’s facial expressions is the biggest thing. I had good success in engaging with other students in that way.
What difference does the setup and environment you create remotely have on your learning experience?
It was interesting to see people’s homes and spaces. You see who worked well in an office or people who did a great job in their living room. It was great to see how people adapted and overcame.
Being able to be home in my comfort zone made it a lot easier to learn. It was helpful to take my laptop to my couch and still be able to engage in class. Being able to work out on my deck was also a bonus; it was great to be able to be outside.
The PGS online format worked a lot better for my schedule. It’s more flexible, which is highly beneficial. Being a working adult and engaging and completing my program online was extraordinary.
Learn Your Way
For Meghan, advancing her educational goals took place through a livestream video in her home office. What will it look like for you? Explore a format that fits your lifestyle as a busy adult on-campus or 100% online.