Commentary: To mute or to unmute?

Rhea Geagea

Rhea Geagea is a senior majoring in communications at University of the Pacific

This commentary was written by Pacific student Rhea Geagea.

I would be lying if I said I enjoy everything about remote learning. The truth is, nothing compares to in-person classes and the ability to interact with professors and classmates face-to-face, especially at University of the Pacific. 

Remote learning has been an adjustment for everyone. Students and faculty are both adapting to this new system that we never saw coming. Pacific has handled this transition exceptionally well. Professors are working diligently to continue to provide us with a learning experience that is close to what we would have in-person. It’s definitely not the same, but both parties are putting in the effort to make it work. 

At first, I used to constantly complain about the remote environment. Even though I pride myself on being an optimist, it was extremely difficult, especially after having experienced Pacific in person. On campus, I never had — and never wanted — to have a day off. With remote learning, I need to have days off (and by off, I mean offline). It’s been a challenge trying to find the motivation to do work, but we have to keep pushing regardless. 

After a while, I realized I was so caught up comparing my online experience to my in-person experience that I only focused on the negatives and disregarded everything positive that has come out of it. Here are a few advantages I have discovered that have helped me to stop resenting online learning: 

Convenience: I can log onto class from anywhere as long as I have a stable connection. Not having to be physically present at a specific location gives me much more freedom, and I don’t have to stress about being late to class. Also, some classes are asynchronous, so I can watch the lecture at my own time and pace. I can pause whenever I want to take notes, and I know that the video is always available if I want to brush up on some of the material. 

Comfort: Who would have ever thought that classes can be streamed from the comfort of home? My room has become my new learning space in which I have created my set routine. The flexibility of online classes helps me plan a schedule that is best fit for me.

Connection: I was scared that remote learning would diminish the quality of connections I previously experienced. It was hard imagining the possibility of building relationships with classmates online when we are not able to hang out after class. Turns out I was wrong because everyone was in dire need to connect after isolation. I was able to bond with other students much easier as we were all navigating the same boat. Breakout rooms are superb for building an intimate connection, but of course, that might not always be the case. I’ve had my fair share of unsuccessful and awkwardly silent breakout rooms. 

Control: To mute or to unmute? Camera on or off? These are all options that we get to control. We also get to control our facial expressions as we are constantly looking at our reflection on the screen. At times, we might not be in the mood to show our faces, and that’s fine. Although some professors make it a requirement to have cameras on, they do understand that we need a break sometimes. 

Chaos: Remote learning is a funny type of chaos. There were multiple incidents where I would unmute at the same time as someone else and we started talking simultaneously. Or there were instances when a professor would be speaking but forgot that their mic was muted. Funny moments like these keep remote learning entertaining and relatable. I am sure that other people have had much more interesting Zoom sessions, which is why we have all these remote learning memes today. 

We must not forget that a lot of good has come out of remote learning. It might not be the preferred method of learning for everyone (including myself). However, sometimes we just have to adapt to the challenges, like those caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic, and experience new things in order to discover what we enjoy most.