Third-year Arts and Science student Gail Arron* says he never imagined remote learning could become a reality in his university career.
Now, Arron has been hit by what he calls the “humiliating reality” of remote learning, something he faced in a summer course conducted over WebEx this past year.
“It couldn’t have been more awkward. I still can’t get that experience out of my head, and I don’t want to know what it was like for the other listeners,” Arron said.
Arron says he slept in that morning, and rushed to grab his breakfast, laptop and materials before the class began.
“I was just doing everything. I wasn’t even thinking properly,” Arron said.
“I sat down, logged into the WebEx link and made sure my camera was off. One of my biggest fears is my camera being on while I look ridiculous because I woke up like ten minutes ago.”
Arron says there was a lot of feedback noise while the instructor was presenting for the first few minutes, and the instructor asked everyone to turn their microphones off during the meeting. Once the instructor was audible, the class began.
The only thing is, Arron did not realize his own microphone was still on.
“The worst part is, I was eating, too,” Arron said. “I was eating my breakfast with my microphone basically right next to my mouth.”
It was not long until students began to drop hints about the loud chewing. One student described it as a “squirrel eating chicken wings.”
Although there were others with their microphones turned on in the class, Arron knew that the students were referring to him.
“Just imagine someone eating next to a microphone,” Arron said. “Imagine the static. Imagine the sound.”
Although he is reassured by his assumption that most people did not know who it was, Arron is much more careful going into meetings now. The experience has also taught him to think twice before judging others who have faced similar issues.
“I make sure my mic is off. I make sure my camera’s off. I always have to double-check,” Arron chuckled.
“I think everyone makes mistakes. It’s not your intention to walk into a virtual meeting and do something embarrassing. In the end, it always teaches you a lesson, and I guess I learned mine pretty well.”
*The name has been changed to keep the person’s dignity intact.