Walking down the memory lane, a reminiscence of remote learning amidst a global pandemic
Remote Learning: A brand new experience
As my first blog to be featured on the university website, I decided to take you back in time with me when I studied remotely from my home country. In February 2020, I got the most awaited news from the University of Oulu that I was selected for the master's programme I applied to. It was the international master's programme called Learning, Education and Technology offered by the Faculty of Education, University of Oulu.
I was eagerly looking forward to coming to Oulu and starting my studies in September 2020. But the plans had to be changed or even cancelled due to the first phase of the global pandemic we faced in 2020. My heart filled with despair and disappointment as there was no way that I could travel to India to get my student resident permit (we don't have a Finnish Embassy in Sri Lanka ☹). Therefore, I could not come to Finland by the start of our academic year in September 2020.
But since education was disrupted by the Covid-19 outbreak worldwide, primary, secondary and tertiary education institutes had to find solutions to continue non-disruptive education at all levels.
When it comes to the situation of the University of Oulu, they were quick enough to move from face-to-face classrooms to online classrooms so that every student can carry out their studies without any disruption caused by external factors.
Therefore, even the newly admitted students like me who could not come to Finland on time got the opportunity to kickstart our studies in September 2020.
In the Learning Education and Technology (aka LET) master's programme, there were students from all over the world, and we got to know each other for the first time in our orientation programme. Some were already in Oulu, and the rest of us were still stuck in our home countries. However, as we all joined the classes online, we got to know each other well.
At first, for me, studying remotely was a little bit challenging. I was living in Sri Lanka back then, and getting used to working in a different time zone was confusing. (Confession: I almost missed my UniOulu Ambassador interview as I got mixed up with the two timelines in which I worked!) But luckily for the smart technology we work with nowadays, it is easier to keep track of what we do when we do and that helped me organize my studies well enough even though I was working in a different time zone.
Another challenge I faced when studying from my home country was poor wi-fi connection whenever I had to join synchronous classes. It was so irritating, yet it helped me to practice patience on a daily basis, haha!
Besides how challenging it was, remote studying helped me grow as a lifelong learner who should adapt to new learning environments.
Coming from a social sciences background, I did not have much interest in the field of technology, and before starting my master's degree in a fully remote setting, I was not exposed to such learning settings ever in my life.
So, I did what I had to do! I pushed myself hard to get used to this new learning atmosphere. There were a lot of digital tools and applications we have been introduced to in our programme, which helped me to get myself familiar with the whole concept of EdTech (stands for Educational Technology).
By the end of the first semester of my studies, I was comfortable in the learning setting, and I was able to get involved in meaningful project work with my colleagues, which again helped me to become a collaborative learner, not just in a traditional learning setting but in a fully remote online learning setting.
I had to continue studying remotely in my second semester as well, but it was a pretty comfortable setting to carry out my studies. Of course, I was missing the university experience we could have gotten if not for the Covid-19 outbreak but still working online was not that bad after all!
I arrived in Oulu in April 2021, and by the time I got here, I was almost at the end of my first year. So yes, you guessed it right! I studied online for one whole year! It turned out it was not that bad; in fact, it turned out to be a great experience.
There was a unique learning curve that came along with the change of learning setting from traditional classroom to online classroom, and I consider myself to be privileged to be able to experience it, especially in the country that's ranked number one for its education system in the world!
About the author
Hansika Ambahelagedara from Sri Lanka is a second-year master's student of the Learning Education and Technology programme offered by the University of Oulu. After arriving in Finland, her passion for nature photography has grown a lot, given the fact that Finnish nature has so much to offer when exploring the wilderness.