Online Learning at UNO: A non-traditional way of learning allows more accessibility for a non-traditional student


Ashly Willis

“Becoming an online student was one of the greatest things to ever happen to be during my college education.” Photo courtesy of Ashly Willis.

Coronavirus has become an unprecedented event but the path to success doesn’t have to be. In fact, becoming an online student was one of the greatest things to ever happen to me during my college education. As our world becomes more technologically advanced so will the skills of the class of 2020. 

The class of 2020 surely has been through a lot in the past couple of months but if we are ever going to make things happen for ourselves it’s important to look at the positives, especially in a time where everyone needs a little cheer.

The class of 2020 should be proud of their academic accomplishments as we have faced some challenges along the way such as learning how to Zoom, learning how to navigate Canvas thoroughly to turn in those last minute papers at 11:59 p.m. and specifically for the College of Communication majors, learn all the different ways to communicate with each other outside of the typical face-to-face interaction that we like so much.

As a College of Communication major myself, I would say that learning these lessons is a blessing in disguise as it will help me prepare for and keep a job in these adapting times. Not only do I get to interact with the people sitting right next to me, but now because I have learned how to Zoom, I am able to connect with people all over my city, the state and the world. I have listened to people speak directly from their homes in their native languages as they speak to their loved ones, which is one aspect that I would never get anywhere else. I believe this way we are allowed to get more personal with the people with whom we interact.

In my college career I have mostly carried around 12 to 15 credits every semester, I have learned that online learning gives me the flexibility to complete assignments on time. I also spend some down time with friends and family, which is another thing I wouldn’t be able to do if my schedule remained on-campus. Normally, I would be on campus from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. due to my inability to have adequate transportation every day. Which is one more reason I am thankful that my schedule has transitioned to totally online so I don’t lose out on the opportunity to interact with my peers, or the points we may get from doing in-class assignments. 

The environment to learning may have changed but in some ways I prefer this environment better, mainly because I have several pets who are in my presence nearly every day so they are able to help me stay mental, emotionally and physically focused when my course load may seem overwhelming. As a person who has used the UNO Testing Center to excel at most of my assigned work to get better grades – among other accommodations in the past. However, in this new environment I have learned that sometimes pets can be the greatest motivators and comforters. They’re the comfort when I am experiencing a bad test grade, or when I have multiple assignments due all at once and don’t feel they will be completed by the due dates with the exceptional standards I have for myself. 

I guess that is just my anxiety kicking in but – just like my anxiety that I have dealt with all my life – it is something I just have to manage just like my school work. There has to be a balance created between both. The only way this balance is going to be created is if I remain positive in that I will be able to complete the work with some positivity, no matter what environment I may be in.

If there is one thing to take away from all of this, it’s that it doesn’t matter what environment you are in as you long as you complete the assigned work, because with this mindset you will be right on track to getting that degree that all of us have only dreamt of getting. 

Ashly Willis