Focus On
Back to Law School -- young woman wearing mask and carrying a backpack with a maple leaf in the background

Pandemic reshaping education | Shreeya Devnani

Thursday, September 02, 2021 @ 3:06 PM | By Shreeya Devnani


Shreeya Devnani %>
Shreeya Devnani
Across the globe, almost everyone is asking the same question, “When will we get back to normal?” For many of us, normalcy meant going to school, attending classes in person, speaking with professors in office hours and meeting up with friends. Undoubtedly, the pandemic has changed these routines and behaviours for all of us.

From interacting with hundreds of people on a daily basis in school to seeing the same people in your household, it is safe to say that we have all experienced a gigantic shift in education and learning. In this past year, students such as myself have slowly adapted to the concept of “Zoom school.”

This means taking assessments online, having lectures through a screen and collaborating with peers on group assignments through digital platforms. Evidently, learning educational material in an entirely remote manner has been challenging to say the least.

As we move towards the upcoming school year, there are many adjustments to be made as several students play catch up. Online school had multiple benefits, including waking up at 8:50 a.m. for a 9 a.m. class, learning the material at your own pace and having technological resources at your convenience for additional support.

However, much of this will be different in the next school year. While technology and innovation will remain crucial factors in education, traditional methods of learning will continue to dominate.

For example, over the past year, law school exams at Lincoln Alexander School of Law at Ryerson University (Lincoln Law) were administered entirely online with no proctoring mechanisms being utilized. Although this placed many students at ease and provided comfort, with the transition periods of being back on campus, exams in the coming year will most likely be done in person with proper proctoring.

For students this means being in a room full of other individuals taking an exam and remaining focused for the duration of the exam. This feeling is one many law students at Lincoln Law have not experienced for a long time.

Participation in classes will also look different. Online interactions with colleagues have been easier as they are not as intimidating as being in person and speaking with hundreds of eyes on you. Those who are slightly more introverted have found comfort in being able to speak more freely and expressively through an online platform in an uninhibited manner. Many of them have found it easier to leave the camera off if they are comfortable and still share their thoughts and opinions on what is being discussed.

However, with students attending class in person, the dynamic of those who decide to participate may change. Some students may find it difficult to adjust to speaking and sharing their opinions in front of classmates they have not yet met.

Many of us crave personal relationships. We look forward to meeting new people and building lifelong relationships. However, starting school amidst the pandemic has created a barrier in the development of many relationships, whether they be professional or personal. Casual friends such as those we would simply catch a cup of coffee with after class have become unsustainable, short-term relationships.

Friendships that are based on interests and shared experiences are the ones thriving during this unprecedented time. One of the greatest adjustments to make post-COVID is going to be relearning how to build connections and make friends again in a classroom setting.

Although going through difficult experiences and sharing similar struggles in law school does automatically bring you closer to people, the intimacy and closeness of meeting people in real life is a different feeling. There is going to be a greater learning curve meeting people and readjusting to the simplicity of making friends in person.

Engaging with class material, especially dense, content-heavy law school cases, will also become easier in person. Asking questions in class, speaking with professors and staying after hours contributes to the greater interest and interaction with the material. Learning these materials online has been demanding.

Learning topics from scratch with limited guidance has forced many students to adopt mechanisms of self-learning, methods not everyone thrives under. Therefore, with professors teaching in class and being readily accessible for assistance, there will be greater engagement with the material.

I am ecstatic to attend classes and be on campus in the upcoming school year. Being around friends, grabbing lunch after classes and studying on campus are all activities I am looking forward to. While it may be a bit of an adjustment period, I am thrilled to finally receive a sense of normalcy that has been gone for so long now.

Shreeya Devnani graduated from Western University with a degree in criminology and women studies. She is a 2L student at the Lincoln Alexander School of Law at Ryerson University and is an executive in the Lincoln Law SALSA chapter.

Illustration by Chris Yates/Law360

Interested in writing for us? To learn more about how you can add your voice to
The Lawyer’s Daily, contact Analysis Editor Yvette Trancoso-Barrett at Yvette.Trancoso-barrett@lexisnexis.ca or call 905-415-5811.