Education has become one of the most affected facets of life during the coronavirus pandemic. With schools across the globe shut, in a bid to curb the outbreak, many have taken to remote lessons as an alternative to risky face-to-face classes.
Though remote teaching methods help students keep up with the curriculum to some extent, many complain that the environment of virtual education falls short as too "artificial" and fails as a substitute for face-to-face learning.
"It's getting harder and harder to stay focused during lessons, compared to attending face-to-face classes," said Beyza Torun, a 23-year-old economics student at Dokuz Eylül University in Izmir, western Turkey.
Although Torun understood that school closures may have been a necessary measure against the virus that threatened to become "unstoppable" in the absence of such policies, the young woman said students of the 2019-2020 academic year could turn out to be less competent when they graduate due to the shortcomings of online lessons.
Staying motivated is a serious difficulty during online classes, she said, adding that many of her classmates had similar complaints. Some said they felt like they were still in high school while staying with their families, unable to enjoy the "personal freedoms" that they had had at university, Torun said.
"Many of my friends left the cities of their universities and returned to their hometowns to ease their financial burdens during the outbreak. Most complain that it's hard to focus on lessons while their families are around," said Torun.
Zeynep Tanrıverdi, a 21-year-old student of mining engineering at Bülent Ecevit University in northwestern Zonguldak province, said theoretical classes were on track but field studies have suffered greatly during the pandemic.
Though staying home may be in everyone's best interest, she said, this does not change the fact that students who need to partake in fieldwork will lack their full training experience and could therefore face difficulties in future employments.
"Remote education helped us not fall behind during this pandemic, but it's no secret that students miss lessons with their peers and fully enjoying university life. This outbreak caused a yearlong loss for all of us. It upsets me deeply," she added.
These sentiments were affirmed by lecturer Ali Emre Karagül of TOBB University of Economy and Technology, who said the majority of his students bemoaned not being able to socialize. This is the most challenging factor in the lives of young students during this time, he said.
"Student motivation has diminished sharply, which has more to do with the challenges of the (virus) period than the courses," he said, adding that students had a hard time focusing on lessons, especially those who contracted COVID-19.
On the ways to increase student motivation, he said, "We remind our students that they're not alone ... (and) use tools to make our lessons more efficient – among them group activities that help students socialize."
The 30-year-old lecturer suggested that a hybrid teaching model, in which students received a degree of both remote and face-to-face lessons, could be more effective and help overcome students' socialization issues.
The virus outbreak has claimed more than 18,000 lives in Turkey and total confirmed cases have topped 2 million, of which 1.8 million have recovered.
Worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed over 1.71 million lives in 191 countries and regions since last December.
Over 77.8 million cases have been reported with more than 43.8 million recoveries, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S., India and Brazil remain the worst-hit countries in terms of the number of cases.
While new restrictions are being imposed ahead of the holiday season, especially across Europe, countries are also approving and procuring vaccines to pave the way toward ending the pandemic.