My Journey to Online Learning

Making the transition to online learning is a journey I have yet to embark upon in totality, but is one that I am both anxious and excited to embrace. As an individual with learning differences and a deeply seated yen for routine and consistency, I have tended to find what works for me--in this case, in-person classes that involve lots of participation--and have stuck with it. But at 33 years old, still wanting to finish the undergraduate degree I began at Wesleyan University in Middletown CT, I have started to ease myself into the process of online learning now that I am back in NYC by enrolling in hybrid classes that have had both classroom and virtual components which have complemented one another.

As someone who has historically been easily prone to frustration, overly hard on myself and who sometimes takes a bit longer to become acquainted with and accustomed to new learning platforms/environments, I have really appreciated the combined in-person and online components of the hybrid-class that I am currently taking. Although I had been more comfortable with a traditional classroom setting, I have found that being able to address my concerns and issues regarding our online learning platform with the professor and with students "IRL" have really helped me to make the transition a bit more seamlessly. I am learning how to operate online learning systems with greater ease and more confidence now than I ever could have imagined for myself.

To be perfectly frank, before my experience with a hybrid class I was incredibly intimidated and honestly scared, for lack of a better word, that I would be hopelessly confused and unable to keep up with my peers. I found myself often in situations trying to navigate educational websites and coming away in tears, confused by the user interface and overwhelmed and overstimulated by what felt like a virtual labyrinth of menus and links. Yet this opportunity to do my coursework online has given me a new found confidence. Some takeaways:

I have found for myself that having a virtual copy of my text online as well as a hard copy of the textbook has assisted me in my learning.

I have found that being honest and transparent about difficulties that I am having with the website (no matter how incapable or silly it may make me feel to voice them) has been met with a warm reception.

I have often found that I am not alone in my difficulty, even if I was the first to speak up about it.

If you had asked me over the winter if I was willing to do an online course format, I would have lamented that I was too stupid, too computer illiterate, or some such other self-deprecatory statement that felt entirely too real. Having been forced by necessity to undertake a class that was partially online really helped me to expand my understanding of myself. I now embrace a more compassionate outlook on myself as both a learner and a person.

Although my limited experience in online learning has had its fair share of challenges and frustrations, I am moved to tears that the process of online learning could adapt to suit my needs, if only I am able to find a professor who is open to communicating with me and if I am able to suspend my disbelief and self-judgement long enough to dare to try something I prematurely assumed I would be an utter failure at. I am currently looking forward to taking more courses online and possibly even finishing my bachelors in this way.

In these uncertain times, it is wonderful to be certain that learning online can potentially be an option for me.

My name is Alicia. I am a native New Yorker, a passionate learner, and an artist. My learning disabilities and ADHD affect expressive language, information processing, and memory.  My learning differences have been frustrating within specific settings and have been true assets in other settings. They have provided me a unique perspective for expressing knowledge by unconventional and non-traditional methods.

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