Let’s face it, so many aspects of our lives take place on the Internet that the transition to online learning has been smoother than people predicted. Students who forgot to bring their book have transitioned to forgetting to turn their mics off; students whose dogs ate their homework before Covid-19, now have their files destroyed by a virus and students who liked to shout out without raising their hands are still just shouting out without raising their hands. There are some students, however, who’ve had to be more creative to take their irritating habits into Zoom, Skype and Adobe Connect.
We spoke to Julienne Brodeur, who was tentative about joining her online class, wondering at first how she would be able to keep up her habit of chatting away in her native language.
“Quand le temps de la classe et venu,” she tells us, “la solution semblait etre de taper en francais “text chat” a la place.”
Has her experience been disrupted in any way?
“Non, j’apprend tres peu des cours.”
Another student, Rashid Bin Shabib, has taken his own galling behaviour online in rather a different way.
“As an overweight businessman, I used to make sure to eat garlic for lunch and then hit the gym before my private class, changing back into the clothes I’d had on all day,” he tells us. “But the really special touch I used to add, is that I wouldn’t let the poor teacher open the window, complaining that it was chilly.”
He turns the camera towards his laptop. “Here’s what I’ve done. I’m still eating garlic for lunch and exercising before class, but I now have too many windows open. Do you see? So the video chat cuts in and out, which must be infuriating for Sylvia.” He beams at a frozen pixellated image of his teacher’s face as an incomprehensible croak stutters out of the speaker.
“I used to pride myself on how uncomfortable I’d make my teacher and classmates with my flirting,” says Gloria Hernandez. “I can’t invade their personal space anymore and if I pout into the camera, there’s no way they can know they are the recipient. So I’ve decided to post kiss emoticons in the text chat after every contribution and luckily,” she says excitedly, “I’ve downloaded this filter which gives me bunny ears. It’s reassuring to know that people will still find my behaviour inappropriate.”
Not all irksome students have found a way to electrify their vexing habits. We spoke to Wang Wei, a student who is accustomed to complaining to the teacher about grades he receives on tests.
“Usually I would try to physically intimidate the teacher a bit, you know, berate them. When I sent my teacher a Whatsapp message complaining that I’d received a low mark on the unit test, she just told me that it was a browser-based quiz, marked by an algorithm.” He scratches his head. “So my first thought was, what is an algorithm and can I shout at it to avoid taking responsibility for my of lax efforts at studying? Well, I’ve asked around and the answer is no. I’ve tried to find the name of the programmer who coded the test, though, so there is a chance I’ll be able to foist my inadequacies off onto him.”
In an unexpected turn, some maddening traits have actually been streamlined by the shift towards online learning. A student in Qatar who copies and pastes his homework straight from the Internet is now able to submit his plagiarised assignments within three minutes of the task being set while another student who constantly requests toilet breaks has ceased asking altogether, merely taking his Ipad with him to the toilet. Classmates and teacher alike are pleading with him to turn off his camera during visits.