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Letter to the Editor: Online learning is not for everyone

Written by
and
November 6, 2020
Letter to the Editor: Online learning is not for everyone

In my short time at Trent, before the COVID-19 pandemic, I was content with the accommodations provided by the school and was confident in my abilities to complete my degree to a high level of standard. However, coming back to Trent in the middle of the pandemic has been a struggle not only physically but mentally. Having been born severely hearing impaired, I’ve relied on hearing aids all my life. While in the classroom it is easier to accommodate a hard of hearing student there should be no reason why that student can not be equally as accommodated in online schooling. As a hard of hearing student, I require captioning in all of my synchronous and asynchronous courses, and that captioning has been difficult to obtain in many of my courses. In my asynchronous courses, I have been fighting for over a month to have captioning added, it was constant emails back and forth trying to get the process sped up. Many times I was given promises as to when it would be done for past lectures only to have that date come and go with no captioning on the videos. Furthermore, the captioning in my synchronous courses is often hit or miss. Some weeks, the captions are full of so many errors it makes the captioning completely illegible and impossible to read. As well, I’ve had sessions confirmed with captioning services only to find that there was no captioner in the class at all leaving me lost on the material being taught in class. As a result of this, I don’t have the knowledge that I need to complete the assignments required in class and Google can only help so much in university-level concepts. I find myself spending 2-3 times longer on assignments than I should be, handing in subpar work at the very last minute and overall in a very poor mental state throughout this semester. I have breakdowns several times during the week and almost dropped out of school at least a half dozen times. I finished last year on the Dean’s Honour Roll and this year I am looking at an average of about 65%. Watching assignments get returned with poor grades is one of the most upsetting things about this semester. I know that I am a better student than this and I worry about this affecting my chances of getting into Grad School, as well as the impacts that these grades will have on the scholarships which I rely on. To me, one of the worst parts of this is the action SAS is taking. Without consulting me, my advisor had me approved for a reduction in course load allowing me to take 1.5 credits a semester full time. I never asked for this accommodation to be made and I’m not understanding how this will help me with the captions. I question my choice to attend Trent University for my degree and I wonder if there were better options for me as someone with a disability.

We are always accepting student and community voices in the form of letters to the editor. Email your submissions to editors@trentarthur.ca with the subject line "Letter to the Editor".

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