Online learning: a view from an international student

I’m an international student at INTO Newcastle University. I study International Foundation in Business and Management course right from my home country Myanmar (Burma).

During the pandemic period, schools, universities and colleges were forced to close by law. The transition in delivering education has made the students to study from their home and teachers to teach from home.

Online learning: a good thing out of a bad thing

Personally, online learning is not a new experience for me as I have studied GCSE by online learning due to Covid-19 social distancing safety measurement. Besides, online learning is a good thing out of a bad thing.

For instance, online learning is more convenient for me because I can learn wherever I want. I can even study in my personal favourite space at home. Furthermore, online learning allow me to have more flexible hours.

For instance, the time that classes start in the UK is 9:00 am but the time in my country is 2:30 pm so I can have more time in bed. Also, I can spend my morning routine by looking through the recorded lecture clip before the class starts.

On the other hand, the drawbacks of online learning makes the classes less interactive. There is also more exposure to digital device so it’s not good for eyesight.

A whole new experience at INTO

For me, learning at INTO is a whole new experience in online learning. There has been big difference with the online learning that I have experienced before. For instance, the experienced and skilled teachers working together with helpful INTO Student Service create a very nice environment for online learners at INTO. The assistance from them is way beyond expectations.

At the beginning I was warmly welcomed by the INTO student service team. They provided an induction week. We were introduced to the Canvas system (school online learning platform). We also met our teachers and learned how the assessments will be made. All the instructions they gave are very clear and students can ask questions at any time.

Support available

INTO student services also offer mental assistance and help when we need it. Besides, we also have a personal tutor who we can talk to about academic or even outside of academic issues. This is a really good way of expressing our feelings and problems that we face.

The Student-Staff committee also plays a vital role in our online learning experience. There are student representatives who represent the whole class and listen to the issues that students have. Then, the student representatives share any issues with the head of the committee to discuss and find the solution.

For instance, I could have unexpected issues with internet connectivity in my country. This due to the military government taking power over the country. I informed the committee about this. Then, the committee came up with the solution of special consideration for Myanmar students with assignments and exam submission if the internet is cut. Thus, the connection between students and the committee is really important.

Canvas as an online learning tool

When it comes to online learning, a reliable and user-friendly platform is needed. At INTO, we have Canvas where students access learning materials, assignments and coursework. Canvas is easy to use, it allows student to be on the track with things going on in each of the subjects.

Teachers use Canvas to announce the test/exam in advance and post the learning materials. Student services is also reachable on Canvas. It creates a wonderful atmosphere for online learning.

Newcastle University’s library is also accessible online and it’s really useful for students when finding reliable academic resources for project and assignments.

Making friends

Ever since the course started, students were asked to introduce themselves and talk about themselves and their hobbies. Teachers of each subject also encourage students to take part in every group discussions and to participate in group projects. In these ways, students get to know more about each other and become more familiar. Although education is delivered online, it’s never a barrier to make friends.

For instance, we use social media and email to communicate with our classmates. In particular, WeChat is the most common application that we use to talk with our classmates as most of them are from China. We also use Zoom to meet up in a virtual environment to discuss and work on group assignments. My classmates are very friendly and helpful to each other. Therefore, making friends in an online class is never ahard thing although we don’t see or meet each other outside.

My learning experience at INTO is a whole new experience for me of pursuing my studies online. Even though there are some obstacles, I really enjoy my study at INTO.

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